Barry Island IPA

Brains Craft Brewery: Barry Island IPA (Wales: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Browned gold body. Small carbonation and moderate off white head.

Nose: Gingerbread. Malt drinks. Crushed peanuts and lots of it. Lime cheesecake. Elderberry. Dried apricot.

Body: Quite thick. Earthy. Nutty. Lime hops behind. Key lime pie. Passion fruit.

Finish: Soil. Earthy hops and bitterness. Kumquat and passion fruit.

Conclusion: I’m not quite sure that Brains knows what an “American Style IPA” is. Heck, between this and Boilermaker I’m not 100% sure they know what an IPA is.

The lack of American style is distinct in the main hop character which is very heavy and slightly soil like, like the earthy British IPAs. The malt is far too heavy, with a nuttiness dominating most of the beer that isn’t being earthy. Unlike Boilermaker there is at least big hop bitterness, which does make it closer to the style, but that massive nutty body kind of kills it.

The real pity is that under all those elements you can taste the start of something good. The elements are there, key lime pie and passion fruit. Yes there is a slightly smooth dessert like character, kind of cheesecake like at one point, and also with the texture. If they had pushed that up, and I mean way up, then you would have good beer. As is the good elements are locked behind a wall of soil hopped and dull base that can but let them down.

It is like they took a good IPA and half and halfed it with the most boring bitter they could dig up from the vaults. Brains can do high quality beer, and have done good beers under the craft brewery label, but so far they have shown me no evidence that they can do good IPAs.

Background: Ok, so boilermaker wasn’t very good. However I had picked this up at the same time, and it didn’t seem too bad when I tried it on draft at a GBBF a few years a go, so I went in with some optimism. This one was made in collaboration with a Simon Martin who is apparently “Mr Real Ale Guide”. I read that after reviewing and it did lead me to think, “yes who better to do a craft beer than someone who is part of the group that constantly attacks the idea of craft beer”.(Ok that is unfair, many lower level CAMRA people are huge craft beer fans, but it just made me roll my eyes when I saw it.).