HCBC 3 – Northern Special – Part 2

Welcome back to Hutch’s Craft Beer Club for the second part of our Northern Special! For part one click here and for info on the rating system click here. Let’s find out who our champion is…


Mini Milkshake  (Wander Beyond / Table Beer / 3%)

An interesting proposition from Wander Beyond of Manchester, a lower strength version of their 5% Milkshake IPA. As is becoming a common theme with the IPAs we have at the minute, this one has added lactose to give it that creamy ‘milkshake’ texture.

There are many different wonderful tastes to the beers we try, but one i haven’t heard before is Brett’s description of the after-taste ‘New shoes (leather)’. Considering he gave the beer 70 overall that can’t be a bad thing!

An average score of 53.4 is perfectly respectable for the mini milkshake, especially considering its low % in a group where most people like the harder hitting stuff. It has a gentle smoothness provided by the lactose and a low-level hoppy taste that lingers briefly.

The mini milkshake scored mixed reviews in pretty much every category, with all the individual averages hovering around 50%. One area that it didn’t do particularly well in however was drinkability, with most people suggesting that whilst a nice beer, they wouldn’t want very many of them. Diversity was relatively low as well, with a difference of 34 points between top and bottom scores.

Andy’s Take – Scored it 53 – Didn’t quite hit the spot for me, with it being neither milkshake-y or IPA-y enough. Despite that, it’s a very drinkable, pleasant beer so would still have a pint or so if I saw it on draft.

Position on the night – 7th (out of 8)
Disliked most by – Sam R
Liked most by – Brett
Favourite of – No-one

Butterfly Guard (Marble / Contemporary IPA / 6%)

We now move on to a ‘Contemporary IPA’ from the ever popular and reliable Marble Brewery of Manchester. We have another IPA that utilizes lactose for that extra juicy mouthfeel.

Aftertaste is where it all happens for Brett, this time remarking that the aftertaste is ‘Sweet and Sticky’. However he also puts the drinkability down as ‘Nah!’ so unsure about his feelings for this one!

A nice average score of 65.1 puts this beer in very good company. It’s got a very fruity, hoppy punch to it which is generally this groups favourite type. Special mention for the colour which is very vibrant. However, the diversity of this is huge with Alex giving it just 35 but two others giving it over 80!

No particular category sticks out as being head and shoulders above the others, but taking into account Alex’s outlying low results then the after taste is definitely the best aspect of this beer.

Andy’s Take – Scored it 75 – Feels very much like a Belgian beer, but with a big hoppy twist underpinning it. Extremely drinkable for me, and for a 6% beer doesn’t taste anything near that strength.

Position on the night – 3rd
Disliked Most By – Alex
Liked Most By – Sam R
Favorite of – Sam R and Tom

Summer Forage (Lost Industry / Kettle Sour / 4.3%)

Lost Industry are one of my favourite breweries right now, so I couldn’t let this competition pass by without an entry from them. Summer Forage 2018 is a kettle sour with foraged Rhubarb and Elderflower.

So if you are a regular reader of this blog you know Brett doesn’t like sour beer, and unfortunately this is no different! He remarks it smells like ‘a damp tea towel’ however it does taste ‘sour enough to make your face twist, but not in a bad way’ – so maybe there is hope for Brett and sours yet!

Once again the sour divides the whole club. We have an average rating of 54.1, which is still pretty good on our scale, but scores ranging from 84 down to a measly 16! This just illustrates how divisive sours are, you truly love them or hate them.

Due to this divisiveness its difficult to glean much from the rest of the results. What I will say, is that you have a cluster of 3 scores all in the 60s, which I think can probably be taken as the normalized average (64.3) of this beer when you take away all the extremes showing that this is a very good sour beer, if you like sours!

Andy’s Take – Scored it 81 – I personally loved it. The smell is a tad off-putting but after that it just shines brilliantly. My exact words in the notebook are ‘My word the taste is something else’. It’s very crisp and not overly sour enabling all the subtleties to come through. Great beer.

Position on the night – 6th
Disliked most by – Sam R
Liked most by – Liv
Favorite of – Liv

Don’t Mess With Yorkshire (Northern Monk / Pale Ale / 4.5%)

What else can we end with in this special Northern edition of HCBC than with ‘Don’t mess with Yorkshire’?! From our friends at Northern Monk who you may remember brought us the fantastic ‘Leeds Beer Week’ from the last edition. Let’s hope they follow it up with another beauty.

A ‘Tropical zesty’ smell, ‘Slightly bitter’ taste and a drinkability of ‘I don’t have enough money’ says a lot about this beer! A nice tropical ale that sits towards the pricier end of the spectrum.

If you’ve been following this closely then you know there’s only one position left up for grabs, 1st place! Northern Monk have done it again and take home the first HCBC Northern championship. This one is a very drinkable, gently hopped, juicy and slightly bitter pale ale that is just an all round solid beer.

It averages 72.5 putting it in the ‘Fantastic’ category. The highlights when it comes to this beer are definitely it’s drinkability (averaging 75.7%) and initial taste (averaging 77%) which I wholeheartedly agree with. A diversity of only 25 means that most people were all on the same page with this beer.

Andy’s Take – Scored it 75 – Really solid nice beer, eminently drinkable and just very nice. It doesn’t do anything spectacular but it doesn’t have to when it gets the basics so right. 

Position on the night – 1st
Most liked by – Tim
Least liked by – Sam R
Favourite of – Tim

Final Word

So we bring this Northern special edition to a close having showcased some fantastic beers from across the region. Let’s look at a few of the awards;

Least Liked Beer – Unfortunately there’s always got to be one and this time it was All the PPL from Zapato, though by no means a bad beer.

Best Beer – As previously celebrated, it’s Northern Monk’s ‘Don’t mess With Yorkshire’ which won by making sure it got all of the basics absolutely spot on.

Strongest Opinion – The person who had the biggest swing in likes and dislikes this week is Liv who managed to give Oblivion a measly 11 whilst giving Summer Forage 84! Hates dark beer but clearly likes a sour!

Beer Junkie – This time it seems as though I was in a very generous mood, doling out a whopping 582 points, 19 higher than Andrew in second place. My average score was 72.75! Clearly I love Northern beer!

‘Beer Isn’t For Me’ – A hard-fought battle between Alex and Liv for who can give out the least amount of points ended with Liv winning having handed out just 412 points with an average of 51.5!

Least Divisive – Unsurprisingly the winner of this meeting was also the least divisive of all 8 beers with just 25 points separating ‘Don’t mess with Yorkshire’s best and worst scores.

Most Divisive – A very close run thing this, between Oblivion and Summer Forage. But in the end it was actually the Raspberry Milk Stout which tore people apart the most, 70 points separating its best (81) and worst (11) scores!

The updated league table therefore looks like this, with just one beer breaking into the current top-tier but several making into that all important ‘Good Beer’ range. Still no beer that has made it above an 80 average!

League Table

As always, see below for the graphs and full ratings break downs, and keep checking back for more features, reviews and very soon the results of HCBC 4 as they keep coming thick and fast!

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