For the last 2 years Mash Gang have been working up the ranks in the alcohol-free beer scene, with each release seemingly improving on the last and pushing the boundaries of what nolo brewing can achieve. They’ve also done all this while causing chaos, disruption, panic and sometimes dismay with their experimental brews of cereal milk pale ale (flavoured with real boxes of sugar-encrusted American breakfast cereals), strawberry milkshake white stout (modelled after the Nesquik range of powdered lecithin soup), fizzy gummy worm sours (a collaboration with an NFT artist) and other small batches of lunacy. All this has been done while bouncing between different breweries, in true ‘gypsy brewer’ style, producing batches of beers at different locations throughout the UK and also probably learning more about their craft as they’ve done so.
But now we’re seeing signs that the rebellious youth phase may be mellowing, and Mash Gang seem to have found a home up in Aberdeen with fellow brewers Fierce Beer (with whom they produced a nolo imperial stout I’ve not managed to get my hands on). Expanding on this, the gang now have a ‘core-range’ available – beers rebrewed on a regular schedule and supposedly available all year round. From this core range, the one that arguably stands out the most to us is ‘Chug’, probably due to it’s striking can artwork and the economy of language used for it’s name.
Mash Gang Chug is an XPA. Time for another short lesson in beer-related acronyms! XPA stands for Extra Pale Ale, and is a style of beer created in the US. Essentially an interpretation of English pale ale recipes using local ingredients, the style also goes down the American route of ‘adding more’. The end result tends to sit nicely between an American Pale Ale (APA) and an India Pale Ale (IPA). But for some reason, the country that has embraced the XPA style the most is not the US or England, but Australia. It makes sense when you think about it, as an XPA on paper would be easier to drink all-year-round than an IPA while offering the Aussie drinker more of a hoppy kick. Let’s see what Mash Gang’s twist on the style is.
The beer pours a hazy pale gold colour and is pretty much opaque. We get a small frothy head produced though this shrinks back quickly and ends up as a few splotches of foam as we drink. On the nose the dominant aroma is tropical pineapple, though vying closely behind is sweet mango. There is also citrus there in the background, both mandarin and grapefruit aromas. Very fruity and juicy on the nose – will we get any bitterness when we taste?
The tropical fruits are there ready and waiting to pounce on us as we taste, with the pineapple and mango surviving the transition and bringing with them some passionfruit notes – the Vic Secret hops at work maybe? Along with the fruit comes a grassy/citrus bitterness, with grapefruit and lemon aromas, balancing the tropical sweetness well. The body is medium, with tingly carbonation and a soft and drinkable mouthfeel. And finally the chilli is back! I’ve missed this Mash Gang staple in previous beers, but they’ve got the effect spot on with Chug – you start to feel a mild burn in your throat and tongue about halfway through the drink, and this grows pleasingly as we progress, and expertly mimics the alcohol burn sensation. We get a crisp, dry, refreshing finish to the drink.
The first nolo XPA reviewed here, and the first beer from Mash Gang’s core range, Chug is expertly crafted to be both flavoursome and refreshing, and it’s name easily foreshadows it’s fate when you take a can of it out of the fridge. I think this non-alcoholic ale is going to prove very popular, let’s hope the Gang’s new home and crowdfunding will allow them to keep rebrewing this to meet with demand.
Buy Mash Gang Chug
Mash Gang’s beers are usually limited runs, but thanks to Chug being in their core range it should be easier to get hold of. Try direct from the brewer below:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)
|Additional nutritional information not given. Boo, hiss!
|Water, Rye, Wheat, Oats, Malted Barley, Maltodextrin, Hops, Yeast, Chilli, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Flavouring
|Country of Production
|Mash Gang – https://mashgang.beer/
Mash Gang Chug Nolo XPA Review
The best yet from the Mash Gang, lovely juicy tropical and citrus aromas and flavours with just enough hoppy bitterness to take the edge off.