It's always interesting to take a look at the year just gone, it is hard to be introspective when you are in the midst of experiencing something. 2021 was atypical in many ways, we don’t need to list why it was offbeat for most people. So, let’s skirt over the obvious and jump straight to something that may have gone under the radar. Some of the eccentric beer releases of 2021 seem downright nonsensical but deserve to go down in history for their brazen mash-ups and flagrant breaking of the rules. Love them or hate them, they are fun, unique and whether it’s for better or worse, something about a special release sends people wild. We will present to you some of the quirkiest, and leave it up to you to decide whether it's magical madness or no-go nonsense.

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#1 BrewDog and Tony’s  

Tony’s Hopolonely - White chocolate and raspberry IPA milkshake 

So, the first up is the matrimony of Tony's Chocolonely and Brewdog. This 21st century love affair brings this Willy Wonka-esque chocolatier’s creations to life in their artfully brewed and brilliantly named love child, Tony’s Hopolonely. Apart from being a bit of a mouthful, this white chocolate and raspberry IPA milkshake combines sweetness, fruitiness, creaminess, and deliciousness.  The beer smells of sweet, fresh raspberries and white chocolate but with the mouthfeel of a creamy milkshake. Taking inspiration from Tony's most cheerful chocolate bar, white chocolate and popping candy, the beer evokes childhood innocence and playfulness. Combining the very best of BrewDog’s brewing talent and Tony's quirky confectionery flair. The jury is out on this crazy combination. It does sound odd but after the years we've had maybe we need to indulge our inner child. 

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#2 Goose Island and Cadbury’s Creme Egg

It’s the Golden Goo-Beer-Lee

In March of 2021 Goose Island teamed up with Cadbury Creme Egg to celebrate the 50th birthday of the nation's favourite gooey Easter treat. Just moments after its launch, this very limited-eggdition release reached the lofty heights of internet virality that most marketeers only dream of. Brewed especially for the occasion, the experts behind the wizardry wanted the inspiration to be abundantly clear. So, it is as deliciously rich, creme-y, vanilla-y and chocolatey as the eponymous egg it set out to mirror. They delivered a celebratory beer that rocked the beer world to its core. But the true heroes were the writers behind the liberal smattering of egg puns and the too-good-to-miss goo-se wordplay (gooey and goose for anyone not following). When you look it like that, it was only a matter of time before both teams cracked and the collaboration came to fruition. And as off the wall as it first sounds, the flavours of a stout are already quite complementary to that of a Creme Egg.

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#3 Harpoon and Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin' Maple Crème Blonde Ale

Although this partnership predates 2021, it was last year that we were graced with three brand new flavours that sound like the fantasies of a sugar-high child. A Blueberry Matcha IPA, a Dunkin' Coffee Porter and the most spectacular of the lot, a Dunkin' Maple Crème Blonde Ale. Brewed with actual Dunkin' donuts and maple syrup. We’ve seen s’mores, berry crumble and apple pie inspired beers. We’re now all quite accustomed to a pumpkin spiced latte. But never before has a coffee and donut infused beer come our way. But wait, there's more to add to this whimsical collab. The cherry on top was a walk-thru event, the new beers were offered alongside a Dunkin' Harpoon IPA donut. So that’s a beer made from donuts paired with a donut made from beer. Is it infantile or ingenius?

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#4 Camden and Marmite  

Marmite Love Hate Ale 

And you thought describing flavours in a beer as “marmite” was just a figure of speech. This seems like the perfect segue into what we can only describe as being more divisive than the blue and black vs gold and white dress debate of 2015.

In recent years we’ve seen Marmite houmous, Marmite cheddar and Marmite peanut butter. Is a beer just a step too far? Arguably not. When you look closer, the link isn’t all that zany. There’s already beer yeast in Marmite, and there’s Marmite in this beer. So, it does make sense, kind of. Brewed with Perle Hops, just like their iconic Camden Hells Lager, some real Marmite is added along with some toasted malt for smokey, bready parity. So, whether you love it or hate it, it works just as like Marmite on toast. We’ll toast to that and let the haters hate. 

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#5 Lowlander and Hema

Tompouce Ale - Milkshake Blond

And last but by no means least, the HEMA x Tompouce. A release that is arguably the most random and niche of the lot of them. The date of its launch and original Instagram posting, had people questioning whether this was a classic April fools, like the Heinz X Innocent breakfast smoothies that caused worldwide hysteria. Afterall, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Well, turns out it was the real deal.  For the uninitiated, a Tompouce is a Dutch variety of the mille-feuille, a two-tiered puff pastry filled with cream. The Tompouce Ale crafted by Dutch botanical brewer Lowlander is everything you think it might be, sweet, creamy, and joyous. The milkshake style blond with vanilla and raspberry does sound delicious. But is it all millennial click-bait, a social media storm of style over substance?

After we started to list all of these whacky creations, there does seem to be a theme. Not exclusively, but many seem to feature chocolatey, dessert flavours. Maybe it’s a reflection of worldwide events, a childlike persuasion to seek comfort in cake. Or maybe it was written in the stars all along and all milkshakes are calling out to be made into beer.