Written by: Gavin Baxter (Beer Fridge Podcast)

Since their inception in 2018 the team at Overtone have been non-stop producing some amazing bold beers and the Mighty Showcase box is the best way to explore what the West side of Glasgow has to offer. With a mix style of beers – Lager, fruited gose, Pales and IPAs.

You open the box and the colourful geometric circles, some almost psychedelic flood your eyes with colour and a taste of what amazing liquid is hidden inside. Naturally you are instantly excited with the higher ABV beers, but we will save them for now. As Overtone have not only mastered the Juice bombs of this world but have also found the formula to getting bags of flavour from their more sessionable, lighter ABV beers.

First beer into the glass was Soft Static 5% Pale Ale, that is full of flavour and a tonne of hops. El dorado, Idaho 7 and Sabro Cryo. It’s soft,creamy with the punch of mango, grapefruit and tangerine. A beer that can be enjoyed by beer geeks as well as newbies, and gives a taste of the quality that the brewery produces.

Let’s go West Coast, Bookhouse Boys at 5%. For me was one of my favourite beers of the box. This, I feel is the little brother to 99 IBUS (last year’s big Westie). Brewed using Columbus, Idaho7 and Cashmere hops. Expect a nice moderate level of bitterness that a West Coast beer should have, and balanced out with flavours of pine, bitter lemon and a lovely sweetness. The bitterness is something not to be scared of and makes you go back for more. I can imagine this beer tasting even better from keg.

Let’s talk lager, the one style where a brewery can’t hide – Pizzicato 5.2%. Now, remove whatever preconceptions you have of the lager style that mass produced beer has led you to believe. Pizzicato is a European inspired beer. Think malty, sweet and refreshing. Not only quaffable and crisp but dynamically complex with a hint of spice, white pepper and hoppiness. A beer that will get you and your friends talking and best enjoyed on a summer’s day.

Psychonaut 8.4% TDH DIPA, just wow. This is the style of beer that I have grown to love from Overtone and why I love this brewery. Hazy and thick, you almost question if using a spoon would be more appropriate. Made with El Dorado, Bru-1, Mosaic and Citra hops this beer coasts your tongue and very quickly, you see why Overtone had the nickname early on of ‘Juice Masters’. An amazing creamy body bursting with dank flavours of mango, pineapple and a hint of a smoky finish.

This box from start to finish shows the excellence that Overtone offers and is a brewery that I would recommend you add sooner rather than later. Add them to your line up today.

I’ve drunk my way through around 20 different Brewser boxes now, and this one from Farm Yard Brew Co. has been one of the best.

I like their story, too. Steven Holmes would be the sixth generation of his family to run their farm, but instead of being out in the fields, or looking after livestock, he decided to build a brewery on the land. That was in 2016. They’ve expanded a lot since then, won lots of awards, added a great taproom, and built in good sustainability measures, including solar power. Before opening this box, I hadn’t actually had any Farm Yard beers, but now I want to drink many more of them.

My box had nine beers, and a nice mix of styles, though mostly hoppy beers (which is what I most want to drink, so that’s good for me!).

Löf is a German-style Pilsner and it’s very good. Very pale, lovely thick foam, little bit of fresh sulphur aroma (which I like in a lager), some lemony hops and a crisp, dry finish. If a brewery can make a Pilsner as good as this, then they get my attention.

Sheaf is their Citra and Mosaic pale ale, and it’s a perfect example of this style. Juicy tropical and citrus, papaya and mango, orange, a light body, great hop flavour through it, refreshing. It’s as good as any other 4.1% ABV pale ale on the market. I’ve Got You is another pale ale, this one raising money for Six Connections, a mental health charity. I got oranges and bitter lemons, and a lush hop complexity through the beer.

There were two session IPAs in the box. Chaff was peach skins, soft tropical fruits and a great depth for the style. Splish Splash was maybe my favourite beer in the box because of how good the Sabro hops taste in this beer. It’s a divisive hop, but in this you get pink grapefruit, creamy dill and coconut (in a good way!), orange, lemon and lime, and it’s superb.

Smoove Bitter is their nitro amber bitter, and while the nitro didn’t leave a creamy foam after a hard pour, the beer tasted like a cask ale in a can, with a comforting and familiar biscuity and toasty malt depth. Chocca Mocha is their vegan vanilla, cacao and coffee stout, and it’s very impressive for 4.4% ABV, with a really rich depth of malt, lots of cacao flavour and fruity coffee. Excellent.

Two IPAs to finish. Many Hands Make Light Work 2 is a 6% ABV collab NEIPA raising money for cancer. Big juicy tropical fruits, a soft and full texture, sweet tropical fruits and bitter citrus to finish. And Gulf is their 5.8% ABV IPA. I loved this beer. They don’t name the hops but it has a distinctive Sabro or Talus pink grapefruit character which I really like, then lots more citrus fruit (all the different types of grapefruit you can think of), an impressive depth of hop flavour and a lasting pithy bitterness.

This is the sort of beer box that makes me excited for beer. All killer, no filler, and beers with character and complexity, but also ones you want to drink several of. Great stuff from Farm Yard Brew Co.!

Hello Modest Beer! This is my first taste of anything from Modest, a brewery from Antrim, Northern Ireland. It’s run by Chris Morris, who went from a tax accountant making beer in a garage to brewing full time, focusing on easy-drinking, well-balanced beers. This box has been a great introduction to what Chris is doing.

I opened their main NE Pale Ale to begin. Cloudy Yet Full Of Sunshine (4.2%) is brewed with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Centennial, and it’s hazy yellow with a nice peach and apricot aroma. There’s sweet pineapple, mango candy, low bitterness and a lovely soft body. They use the word ‘succulent’ on the can and that’s a good description. This is a really good example of a 4-ish% hazy hoppy pale ale.

Just Like Nana Used To Drink (4.3%) is Modest’s Irish Stout. It smells like you’ve put your face in a sack of roasted barley. It’s got a lot of roasted flavours and drinks like a black iced coffee with a little 100% cocoa and richly roasted malts. Great flavour for its low ABV.

If a brewery can make a good Pilsner then they get more of my attention. Good Enough To Take To Yer Ma (5%) is brewed with Magnum, Saaz and Mittelfrüh, and those hops are very distinctive in the aroma. The beer is lightly hazy but still crisp, and has a deep, lasting herbal and woody bitterness – it’s a hoppiness that’d scare a macro lager drinker, but I love that in a Pilsner. 

Of the nine cans in the box, five of them were pales and IPAs, which is good for me. My favourite was Cloudy Yet Full of Sunshine, but all the others were also good, and one thing which came through in all of them was a familiar and consistent yeast ester aroma of peach, apricot and even light vanilla. It’s a nice extra fruity pop of flavour coming up behind the hops. 

The Pretty Good Stratus & Talus (3.8%) hazy pale ale is an impressive low-alcohol pale with a wonderful aroma of Talus with its sweet pink grapefruit (I love that hop!) and a zesty and herbal finish. 2 Thumbs Up (4.4%) is a pale ale brewed with Columbus, Cascade, Cryo Pop and Motueka, and those hops combine to give a juicy lime aroma, layers of citrus pith and zest, and a dry bitterness. Day Dreaming Of Far Off Lands (5.5%) is an IPA with Columbus, Citra and Cascade, and it was my least favourite as there was a slickness in the texture which jarred a little with the bitterness, and the aroma was a bit muted compared to others. 4 Star (5.5%) is an IPA hopped with Columbus, Cryo Pop, Motueka, Simcoe Cryo and Mosaic Cryo. You get a lot of fleshy peach and apricot, plus tannic apricot skin, then some juicy tropical fruits and a herbal bitterness (a solid four star IPA!). 

Exotic But Not Too Exotic (5.6%) is an appropriate name for a mango sorbet pale ale. It’s got mango, vanilla and orange zest in it, but it’s not over-thick or over-sweet, so you mostly just get an extra depth of mango to your pale ale. 

I finished with Where The Other 5% Of British Blackberries Go (4.5%), a bramble sour that’s a vibrant purple colour, smells like a grown up glass of blackcurrant, and tastes like a punnet of blackberries. The tartness is restrained and balanced, and it feels like a very British-tasting sour beer. 

I beat my 4:15am alarm by fifteen minutes and can hardly contain the excitement of my first trip to Northern Ireland, let alone getting back behind the paddle to brew our next collab. Making my way through the sleepy old world of Shrewsbury, I reflect on how the next collab idea came about.

Chris Morris, of Modest Beer, had dropped me an email at the end of January to see what plans we had for St. Patrick’s Day (at that point, we didn’t have many…). I was stoked to hear from Chris, as Ash had kindly shared the Modest box he had for photography and, well, If you haven’t tried Modest Beer before, you’re in for a treat.

Chris is a one-man-band operation, brewing some of the finest hazy beers around. What I like about their box (which features 9 cans and tasting notes), is that ABV tends to stay around 4-6%. You do get some that will sneak over or below, but that sessionable range is my sweet-spot at the moment, and the flavours Chris is able to pack in to his beer is outstanding.

We jumped on a call together and what started as being a box featuring a couple of NI breweries soon turned into a bigger collaboration, featuring 6 breweries from the Island of Ireland, 11 cans, including an exclusive collab DIPA chucked in for good measure. We reached out to all the breweries who were happy to be involved and a date was set for the collab brew.

Having now made it safely across the water, I’m stood outside Belfast airport waiting for my ride from the Bullhouse team. It was my first-time meeting both Mark and Gary and I was particularly excited to meet Mark as I know he’s been a subscriber of ours for some time.

We drove about an hour Northwest and got to where Modest Beer is located, high above Randalstown in Country Antrim, with beautiful views overlooking Lough Neagh. Sam from Lacada, and Michael from Our Brewery were awaiting our arrival with Chris. It was bloody cold, but we were fortunate for a clear day to be able to see the views.

One of the best views of the day though was of Chris’s brew kit. It is a small set up, but unlike any other kit I’ve seen before. It’s manufactured by Brewiks and all tanks are sat on casters so he can move them around as he pleases. It’s pretty-state-of-the-art but also has fair amount of getting your hands dirty (I left the digging of the mash out to Gary and Sam).

The Beer
This one-off Brewser exclusive collab beer is a creamy and soft DIPA packed full of Motueka and Citra, bringing punchy tropical fruit flavours, sweet lime and orange.
ABV: 7.6%
Hot Side Hops: Idaho 7, Mosaic
Dry Hop: Citra, Citra Cryo, Motueka

With the hard work done (by everyone else), we made a beeline for Belfast to visit the Bullhouse East taproom. We were honoured to also be joined by the one and only Neil Delargy (REFTSC5EFKMWY – IYKYK). If you’re heading to Belfast, this taproom is a must-visit. Everything from your craft bar heaven: the three-piece foldable beer tables, 20 taps of draught to choose from, a beer fridge stocked with all sorts of delicious beery goodness and of course, pizza! We were well looked after by our hosts and would like to thank all the staff for a great night.

You’ll hear it a lot from everyone in the industry, ‘one of the best things about craft beer is the community and the people that work in this industry.’ Northern Ireland is no exception, in fact it’s hard to find a stronger community of craft beer lovers anywhere.

The restrictions and licensing laws of NI make it extremely difficult for these independent breweries to get their beers out and therefore promote craft beer to a wider audience. Outside of the 2-3 taprooms in Belfast, I understand that a mere 20 keg lines are free for local breweries, out of 1,100 pubs. Big beer and drinks companies own all of the lines and therefore only their products are allowed to pour, that’s what keeps this craft beer community so tight and passionate about their beer, you have to work hard to make it, and drink it.

We’ve brought together the best breweries from the Island of Ireland for this special box. This is your chance to sample some of their most-loved beers, try something new and support these fantastic teams – all in celebration of St Patricks Day.

So put down that pint of Guinness and pick up Lacada’s Shamrock Pinnacle whilst you thank the brew gods for independent brewing and the joy of discovering something new.

Sláinte! 

Something different for me this month and a box of cider!

I’ve gone for the Intro to Little Pomona box, and as a bonus for all of February, if you lock in any Little Pomona box you’ll get a voucher for a free tour, tasting and cheese matching at their cidery, which you can use between April and September. 

These four 750ml bottles are all really different and fascinating for a flavour nerd like me. I had a quick sip in my opening video, but I needed much more time to really taste my way through them, and I was rewarded by some of the most complex and wonderful drinks I’ve tasted in a long time. 

Hard Rain Hot Pink 2022 is only 3.4% but you’d never guess that from the taste. It’s an impressive, impactful ciderkin (that’s a weak cider) blended with blackcurrant cordial made local to the cidery, and matured with Simcoe hops. There’s all the tangy apples, tart blackcurrant, the pungent hops, a nice refreshing fizz and a light acidity. This is nothing like a cider and black you may have drunk growing up!

The Table Perry (7% ABV) is the first drink I’ve ever been told to use a sieve when pouring it out, and that’s because of the ‘perry diamonds.’ This is just natural tannins which clump after bottling, and while they’re fine to drink, you can just use a little sieve or tea strainer to remove them. And that’s a good idea because it leaves you with a much crisper perry. This has a lovely pear flavour, juicy fruit but also light tannins and dryness, with some tropical fruitiness, all of which reminded me of a beautiful pet nat sparking wine. This is one of the best drinks I’ve had recently. 

Balls Bittersweet 2021 (7.9%ABV ) is named after an unusual Herefordshire apple, and this cider is aged in third-use oak barrels. It’s really dry, tannic, has some light smokiness, even a creaminess, and a really nice fizz. Every sip gave me something different to think about and enjoy, and let me taste an apple I’d never even heard of before. Lovely!

Still Life with Quince 2020 (7.1%) is an apple and quince wine and it’s really aromatic with the apple and the quince, plus a really tropical quality and something creamy, like funky papaya or even some blue cheesiness (in a good way!). It’s a still cider and another one that’s remarkably complex. It’s reminiscent of old lambic.

This is a brilliant box for anyone interested in cider and perry, and for drinkers who love sour beers, sparkling wines and natural wines. I think you’ll be really impressed with this box.

I know Glasgow’s Overtone Brewing Co. for the excellent hoppy beers that they’ve been brewing since 2018, so it was a nice surprise to see a selection box of styles in this one – a Lager, Hopfenweisse, Oatmeal Stout, fruited Gose, and some Pales and IPAs. Here are six that stood out for me.

Place of Light. A 5% hazy Pale Ale with Mosaic, Ekuanot Cryo, Simcoe and El Dorado hops. The foam on this was sticky with hops – I love it! It’s the sort of beer that you know is very good from the first sip, but don’t realise just how good it is until you finish it and immediately want more. It’s got a beautiful soft mouthfeel (like most of the beers in this box). The hops give tropical fruit, peaches and apricot, and there’s fruity yeast esters as well. Superb!

Hopfensee. This is a Hopfenweisse, a German-style Weissbier that’s hopped like an IPA. The Simcoe, Eureka and Citra hops dominate the aroma, with juicy stone fruits, then the Weissbier comes later with its distinctive spicy and fruity yeast. The wheat beer base and the Weissbier yeast transform the hops and gives us some new aromas we wouldn’t find in an IPA with the same hop additions. 

Northern Hemisphere. With Ekuanot, Mosaic and Simcoe, this DDH IPA is exactly the sort of beer I hoped and expected to get in this box. Thick, hazy and juicy, there’s orange, peach and tropical fruit, fruit candy yeast esters (they’ve got a pretty estery yeast at Overtone – I like it!), and a grip of bitterness at the end. 

Gold ‘n’ Gose. A Gose with golden berry, prickly pear and passion fruit. Some people might want this more fruity, or more sweet, or more sour, but it was just right for me: it has an elegance which gives it a great balance without ever being too intense in any direction. The tangy tropical fruit comes through more as you drink it. 

Pizzicato. A Premium Lager brewed with Saaz Lupomax – I’ve never had Saaz in this intensified hop form before, and the aroma is wonderful. I love Saaz hops, and this is the most pure version of the hop aroma I’ve experienced. Wow! I feel like the balance is out overall: too sweet (or not bitter enough), a bit to hazy for crispness, and lacking carbonation. It’s close to being great, but not quite. 

Porridge on the Road. This Oatmeal Stout is one of the best dark beers I’ve drunk all year. The foam is a delicious dark brown colour, and the aroma is a treat of heavily roasted malts, fruity dark chocolate, chocolate truffles, and espresso, which carries through into the flavour. There’s big roastiness first, then the body is so soft and silky smooth. It’s a magic trick of intense flavour first, then softness at the end. Exceptional!

Overtone have really impressed me with this box, as they usually tend to do! If you’d like to give them a try, head over to their profile and get them lined up!