8 Wired: Hopwired IPA (New Zealand: IPA: 7.3% ABV)

Visual: Darkened apricot, slightly hazy. Medium off white bubbled head.

Nose: Very fresh. Grapefruit, elderberry. Very sharp as well.  Blood orange. Underlying hop bitterness. Crushed nettles. Toffee and custard with some very slightly salty smoke after a while.

Body: Very silky smooth with a hop tingle. Grapes, gooseberry, blood orange all mix with custard sweetness. Good bitter back, nettles malt and toffee.  Can occasionally be a blueberry touch on the edges.

Finish: Fresh hoppiness, squeezed lime and pineapple. Bitterness slowly rises.  Grapefruit. Bitterness continues to rise to a potent punch.

Conclusion: For the longest time I incorrectly attributed the flavours of NZ hops to some of the American hop strains.  Since I had mainly encountered them in American beers I hope my confusion can be forgiven. It was only when I started experimenting with single hop beers that I realised I owed NZ hops an apology.

The reason I bring this up is that this beer sparkles with the influence of those hops and then adds some other NZ hops I had not encountered before into the mix. The effect is like a fresh and prickly hop cactus.  Compared to the more earthy UK IPAs or the very resinous USA IPAs this feels like a massive wakeup kick (and yes I know there is significantly more range in each countries IPAs than that, I’m generalising). There is a significant range of flavour as well, lots of varied citrus flavours all just a touch off the usual USA citrus styles, and it brings a does of sweetness to back it up.

The malt sweetness is very smooth and comparatively understated, possibly due to not having to work so hard to make itself felt.

This then has three things in its favour. One, a mass of citrus flavours with significant range. Two a knife edge balance of bitter and sharp which is the sign of a well crafted IPA. Three, and possibly most important, it is different and new in how it feels.  Maybe if the hops used were more familiar I would not receive the beer quite so highly(but only a tiny touch different, it is very well crafted anyway), but right now it combines excellent quality with a new experience and that Is enough to give it great respect from me.

Utterly fresh, prickly and just slightly sour against the bitterness. A great IPA that is one of the very best, and possibly even knocks Punk IPA off its place as my favourite IPA.  Also one of the few beers that is significantly better with a moderate chilling as it ramps up the hops without harming the flavour. A Masterwork of NZ hops.

Background: Bought from Brewdogs guest beer section. In part bought as a family member has been asking for NZ beer recommendations and I have had not too much first hand experience of the scene so I considered it worth a try.  Interestingly the beers bottle declares itself different from the grapefruit heavy American hop IPAs due to using only NZ hops and malts.  Odd as the hop I most often associate with grapefruit is the NZ Nelson Sauvin hop. Then again, they do make a very different style IPA so possibly I shouldn’t pixel bitch too much. Half tried with only minor chilling to compensate for high heat, half chilled reasonably for experimentation purposes with what it would do to the flavour.

A quote from assistant taster Will “It tastes of something nice”, very helpful.