Brewdog: Pilot Brew 003 (Scotland: IPA: 7.2% ABV)
Visual: Bronzed gold. Slightly hazy. Off white dash of a head and some carbonation to the body.
Nose: Stewed apricot and pineapple.
Body: Passion fruit. Pineapple. Toffee and caramel. Eggplant. Turmeric. Creamy but bitter – like hop ice cream? Light strawberry.
Finish: Pepper. Rye crackers. Spicy. Just slightly dry. Cumin. Purple peppers. A good level of hop bitterness. Shortbread. Lemon. Touch of candyfloss sweetness.
Conclusion: Rye is an interesting ingredient in beer, to my eyes at least. It can add so much with so little, adding spice and body or it can be used as the main punch of the beer dominating the character.
Here it is used to add a bit of backing to a big IPA. there are (as is expected by this point) a ton of hop fruit flavours, tons of sweet toffee malt character. Despite the rye they haven’t skimped on the base sweetness and it provides big base for the sweet and tart fruit that mix above it, with a growing level of bitterness. The sweetness is less so in the finish, but still it occasionally glows with a kind of candy floss light touch. It definitely uses a standard but high quality IPA as the base but here it is backed with a touch of pepper and warming spice, into a touch of rye crackers’ dryness in the finish.
There is a touch thicker body than usual, a creaminess that mixed with the hop oils to make an almost hop ice cream effect. You really get the grip for the oils and flavours. and I need to get better grip on beer similes.
There is even a vegetable savoury character, one that seems to be a common Simcoe hop element, and here it works as a grounding that works as a stepping stone between the sweet malt and fruit, and the rye spice. It comes between them easing you from one element to the next, without it seeming a too sharp transition.
Overall a complex IPA with a lot of range, without deviating too far from standard IPA expectations. It has a lot of character as it mixes the smooth base with the rye spice – the warmth of which acts as a warning in place of any alcohol burn. It isn’t radically different, which is about the biggest flaw I can pick, but it is a rock solid beer and well worth taking forwards from the pilot batch. Just a touch more to give it a more distinct identity and this is a winner.
Background: Huh, guess I haven’t been to Brewdog Bristol as much as normal – they have got to pilot brew three without me noticing. I’m slacking. This is a rye IPA, made with Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hops and apparently about 85% malt. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer.