Brewdog: International Arms Race (Scotland: Spice and Herb: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Amber brown. Small off white layer of a head. Some small carbonation in the beer itself.

Nose: Sour berries, maybe elderberry. Slight mouthwash tang. Wet forest air. Peppermint.

Body: Peppermint. Quite fresh. Digestive biscuits. Slightly grassy and bitter. Twigs and leaves. Not quite ripe strawberries occasionally.

Finish: Malted biscuits. Peppermint. Grassy. Maybe lemongrass.

Conclusion: This is so unlike my expectations of a beer that I am still trying to work out how to actually judge it. Standard metrics just don’t seem to apply. Well at least we can say one thing, it is definitely not an IPA, so that is that one out of the way.

It its slightly sour and greenery filled, mainly sour berries in style.  There is a good bitterness from all the hop alternatives they used, though nowhere near IPA level. Also the whole thing leads into a slight peppermint toothpaste/ mouthwash element which comes in. Not heavily, but definitely odd.

It is probably closest in style to some of the Williams Brothers traditional styled beers, but feels odder still than them. It is refreshing, almost mouth cleaning, but is enjoyable despite that. I must admit part of me does consider that the enjoyment comes more from the usual experience than the beer itself however.

It is actually closer to those non alcoholic berry drinks you can get from some coffee shops than a beer. It has similar tartness of character and a refreshing nature that suits mid summer.

Frankly I applaud the madness that went into making this, and the experience of having tried it was a worthy one, but once I’ve used up my stock of them I don’t think I will miss them.

Background: Brewdog and Flying Dog have decided to do a little challenge. An IPA like beer, but without any hops, using just the old fashioned bittering agents such as berries, herbs and roots.  No where near the oddest thing they have done, but odd enough to get my attention. They both make a version of the beer, then at their pubs do a blind taste test to see which is better (Spoilers: Flying Dog won).  The Flying dog version is still in my cupboard and will be sampled later this week. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

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