Brewdog Cap - Cap Dog

Brewdog: CAP: Cap Dog (Scotland: BIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black, with very dark red hints if held to the light. Inch of charcoal dashed brown frothy head.

Nose: Ash. Bitterness and hops. Smoked dried beef and peppercorn. Light kumquat touch.

Body: Good bitterness. Smoked bacon. Peppercorn sauce. Treacle into chocolate syrup. Sour cream twist and chives.

Finish: Peppercorn sauce. Steak. Bitter malt chocolate. Ice cream chocolate syrup. Digestives

Conclusion: You know, I was beginning to get disillusioned with Black IPAs. Ok, that is a lie, or at least disillusioned is the wrong word. Maybe more I was getting worn out by them. While they were generally high quality, the range of takes you got seemed very small compared to IPAs. So many did such similar hop kicks, possibly because fewer hops worked well against the darker malt.

This then, is interesting – the hop bitterness is there, with that prickly hop feel, but the flavour of the beer, the base it works from, is much more towards the malt. It is more meaty, and more a mix of treacle and smoke than it is the hop flavours. It wavers precariously close to the stout styling, which admittedly is a style BIPAs are often not entirely far from, but here it really lets go with the syrup texture, and the sweet touch against the raw hop bitterness.

However, make no mistake, this is definitely a BIPA. Here is that different, drier, mouthfeel, and the bitterness. You can’t mistake it for anything else, but it does seem to trust the hops to be needed primarily as a bittering agent, so to create the spirit of an IPA, then let the malt handle the complexity.

It seems like it should be rough – it has bitter hops, smoked meat, and a slight sour twist. So, it should be rough, but is smooth – the texture may be slightly dry as to be drinkable, but they lace it with touches of syrup sweetness that brings a smooth feel with it. A contradiction? Maybe, but then so is the idea of a Black Pale Ale, so I’ll roll with it. This embraces the contradiction and makes it work for it. It is about how it feels as much as how it tastes – dry up front, prickly as it goes down, seeps onto the tongue and then rises into a smoked air. The flavours are simpler than most, but still the beer manages to have character with those textures.

So, definitely something different and something quality. A very good BIPA.

Background: Yes I’m still listening to the Guilty Gear XX soundtrack while doing beer reviews. That stuff is serious pumped up 80’s style rock. Anyway. Beer. This is a collaboration with CAP. Shocking I know, or Curious Audacious Products, as it goes. CAP was one of the first two Breweries to benefit from the “Brewdog Development Fund” which is cool. This is a black IPA made with Coffee Berry. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

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