Spank's LFF Diary, Sunday 13/10/2019
Spank's LFF Diary: The Wrap Party 2019

Collabfest 2019

Collabfest 2019 at BrewDog Canary Wharf. If you look carefully, the signs are all there.We drank 57 beers last weekend. What did you get up to?

Regular readers will know what's going on here: since 2013, we've been regular attendees at BrewDog's annual beer festival, Collabfest. Once a year, each of their bars gets together with a local brewer and makes a brand new beer: and then for one crazy weekend, all those beers go on sale simultaneously in all the bars.

When we first did this in 2013, there were only eleven BrewDog bars and eleven beers on offer, and we were able to comfortably squeeze tasters of seven of them into the gap between a couple of films at the LFF. By 2019, that number has grown to, um, 78. Luckily for us, only 69 of them were available for Collabfest in the UK: the Asian and American bars couldn't ship their offerings over here, while Reading's contribution turned out wonky and had to be scrapped at the last minute.

Still, 57 out of 69 isn't bad, is it? Depending on your interpretation of the word 'bad', obviously.

Collabfest stretches over a long weekend these days: in the specific case of 2019, 'long' covers the four days from Thursday October 17th to Sunday October 20th. Working within that time period, The Belated Birthday Girl and I set ourselves three ground rules.

  1. Beers to be purchased in flights of four glasses of 1/3 pint capacity and shared between us, meaning we'd each consume a maximum of 1/6 pint of any individual beer.
  2. During the weekend, we would attempt to drink at least one round in each of the 12 BrewDog bars in London. (It used to be 13 until quite recently: this point will be addressed later.)
  3. As in previous years, we would review those beers in real time on Moblog as we drank them, mindful of the possibility that those reviews would descend into stream-of-consciousness babble as each day wore on.

We plotted the most efficient route between the twelve bars, obtained a taplist to find out when each bar was planning to stock the various beers (because no BrewDog bar can have 69 beers on tap simultaneously), and then buckled down to the long, tedious business of drinking lots of beer and documenting it. Here are links to the Moblog pages where you can see how that turned out.

Thursday October 17th

0. Introduction
1. BrewDog Shepherd's Bush: Hopriginal, Who Let the Jam Out, Black is the New Orange, Twice Shy

Friday October 18th

2. BrewDog Camden: Rhubarb Remix, Algae it a Gose, Laika Forever, Manta Meringue
3a: BrewDog Dalston: Two Hops This Time, Stepdance Stout, Shark in My Roof, Red Rosies Bairn
3b: BrewDog Dalston: Basil Crush, Blue Stack, Li’l Sebastian, May Contain Cherry
4: BrewDog Shoreditch: Happy Haze, T.N.Tea, Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb, Tonkoatko

Saturday October 19th

5: BrewDog Clapham Junction: Biére de Coupage, Beatle Juice, The Nutty Professor, Twisted Biscuit
6: BrewDog Brixton: The Big Kahuna, 08|Porter – Rum Punch, H501, Coconut Sinnerman
7a: BrewDog Soho: Brownie Points, Le Blue Dog, Elderflower Lemon IPA, Dickies B
7b: BrewDog Soho: Orange Boom, Deeds Not Words, Purple Grain, Dundeath
8a: BrewDog Seven Dials: Costa del Solway, Vetra Modern Pils, Fight Milk, Jammy Bastard
8b: BrewDog Seven Dials: Sink the Pink, Key Lime Pie, Succumb to Smoke

Sunday October 20th

9: BrewDog Paddington: Cashmere IPA, Zestiny's Child, Paris Mordu, Hippophae Fife
10: BrewDog Clerkenwell: Mirror Mirror, Blackcurrant Trifle, Hippo’s Don’t Lie, Shoquaddyquaddy
11: BrewDog Tower Hill: Feel My Flower, The Dead Sunshine
12: BrewDog Canary Wharf: Shit Hop Puns, 6.8 Comeback Special, Original Peak IPA, Tonkaccino

tl;dr: Which beers particularly stood out? Thankfully, it's not just the high ABV monsters, though predictably there are a few of those on our lists. (And, even more predictably, on the global list voted for by people on Untappd. As foretold in prophecy, the low-alcohol beer is third from the bottom.) Pausing only to emphasise that The BBG and I drew up our lists completely independently of each other, here are my top five favourites, in the order in which we drank them:

  • Manchester & Wander Beyond - Manta Meringue (Nitro Lemon Meringue Imperial Milkshake IPA, 9.1%)
  • Perth & Top Out - Red Rosies Bairn (Fruited Hefeweizen, 4.4%)
  • North Street Leeds & Brew York - Tonkoatko (Vegan Tonka Coconut Cacao & Vanilla Milk Stout, 8.5%)
  • Cambridge & Big Drop - The Nutty Professor (Hazelnut Porter, 0.5%)
  • Budapest & Mad Scientist - Blackcurrant Trifle (Imperial Pastry Gose, 8.2%)

And here are The BBG's top five:

  • Manchester & Wander Beyond - Manta Meringue (Nitro Lemon Meringue Imperial Milkshake IPA, 9.1%)
  • Perth & Top Out - Red Rosies Bairn (Fruited Hefeweizen, 4.4%)
  • North Street Leeds & Brew York - Tonkoatko (Vegan Tonka Coconut Cacao & Vanilla Milk Stout, 8.5%)
  • Leeds & Vocation - Purple Grain (Raspberry & Blackcurrant New England Sour IPA, 6.4%)
  • Budapest & Mad Scientist - Blackcurrant Trifle (Imperial Pastry Gose, 8.2%)

So that's Collabfest 2019 out of the way. Terrifyingly, there's every possibility that the number of beers on offer at Collabfest 2020 could hit three figures. I suspect if that happens, that there might have to be a rethink about how it works as a festival, by us as well as by BrewDog. Wait and see.


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