Weird Beard: Safe Word (England: IPA: 6.6% ABV)
Visual: Deep yellow. Moderate off white to browned head. Moderate carbonation. Some floating veins of what I presume to be fruit.
Nose: Gooseberry and pineapple. Tart, thick and musky. Vanilla fudge. Apricot. Nettles.
Body: White grapes. Smooth. Some bitterness and hop character. Malt chocolate drinks. Sour grapes. Bitterness and hop character rises.
Finish: Toffee. Greenery. Tart white grapes. Malt chocolate drinks. Apricot. Hop oils. Quite dry.
Conclusion: They made some interesting choices with the brewing of this one. I would have imagined that for a berry IPA they would have matched it with the cleaner, more bitter and more attenuated take on the IPA style. Not so. Instead, at its base, this has the sweeter, almost chocolate touched, toffee heavy IPA style. The only exception is the finish which is drier, though still slightly heavy.
The berry influence, based on what I can work out, seems like a mustier, more greenery touched mix of gooseberry and white grapes. The fruit doesn’t dominate, instead creating a musky, thick layer that seeps into the body like moss spreading over a tree. It creates a very greenery touched, thicker IPA than usual, with a hop oil character mixed with more hints to the hop’s natural budding state than most. That isn’t the only hop influence, there are a lot of extra, non berry like notes, which seem to come from the hops.
Does it work? Mostly.
The heavier malt base becomes a bit wearing over time. With having the more musty fruit character on top of the sweet base it emphasises character over easy drinkability. Not a bad trade off but one to be aware of. Despite that the unusual fruit definitely makes its mark and that is what keeps the beer interesting. It seems here to have the tartness of gooseberry, the sweetness of grapes and the mustiness of furry berries.
Not one to return to over a session, but a fun one. I think I would have preferred the drier expression I expected as I think that would have been less leaden by the end – but then again, what beer in the world can compare to the perfect beer of the mind.
And ok and different beer, not one I would repeat regularly.
Background: As a chokeberry IPA, Safe Word has to be one of the most awesome beer naming ever. In my ever so humble opinion. This was part of the 2015 Brewdog collaboration fest, which I missed. It was a mix of being a bit unhappy with a few Brewdog promotions and the fact that it had got to the point where there were too many beers to do in one weekend. Doing a weekend long comparison run was always fun for me. Maybe as they get bigger they could split into two events, maybe a south and north collabfest? Anyway, thought this would be fun to try. Drunk while listening to Svalbard’s awesome “One Day All This Will End” album. Check it out if you like metal. I don’t think I have ever tried chokeberrys so I am kind of guessing about their influence on the beer. Grabbed from Independent Spirit.