Brewdog: Chili Hammer (Scotland: Spice IPA: 7.2% ABV)
Visual: Pale clear yellow. Lots of carbonation but only a small white head.
Nose: Pineapple. Fresh. Slight musty hop character. Chilli seeds. Apricot.
Body: Apricot. Moderately dry. Light brown sugar, then a chilli kick. Chilli seeds and chilli powder. Moderate heat. Light custard and vanilla sweetness. Light tart character. Mango and peach.
Finish: Dried apricot. Chilli seeds and chilli powder. Medium warmth. Pepper and dried beef. Smoke. Bitter hops.
Conclusion: I really can’t get much more detail for my notes from this – I’m sure there is more to it – in fact on early sip there is a distinct fruity, hoppy character that really shows the Jack Hammer base is there. It is just that before I can put words to it the chilli rushes up and kicks everything else away. It is like a race against time to try and decrypt the beer on each sip. Which is my way of apologising for the slightly simple notes this time.
Time does help with this – you can get acclimatised and a bit more balance comes into the game. I’ll see what I can do with this.
The main surviving hop fruitiness is a light tart and apricot character – most of the actual, brutal, Jack Hammer bitterness is fully subsumed under the chilli. By the time the finish rolls around you start getting some complimentary hop bitterness, but not much.
The base under that is pretty dry, which always contributed to the harsh kick of Jack Hammer – it didn’t get in the way of the harsh notes. It is the same here but more so. Over time you can get soft vanilla softness, backed by a slight sweet peach character but it is subdued.
I was unimpressed initially, but time to acclimatise, and a bit of heat to let the aroma start coming out, leads to a bit more balance. More fruit coming out means that the chilli doesn’t seem so harsh, and the beer doesn’t seem so one note. In fact by the end of the beer it is actually quite juicy, which is very surprising – the Jack Hammer base fruity hops really start doing more in the second half of the beer. I guess it is a testament to what a beast that base beer is that it can, eventually, rise to match such intense chilli flavour.
So, like Neon Overlord before it, it is not overly my thing. However, despite weak first impressions, I think this ended up the more impressive of the two through sheer weight of flavour.
Background: As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Then again, I am not a huge fan of chilli beers so it probably evens out. I probably only even grabbed this as it was a Brewdog beer and I tend to enjoy their stuff. Grabbed directly from the Brewdog Store, this was drunk while listening to the Ramones Anthology – some old school punk for the self proclaimed punk brewery. Anyway, this is one of this year’s many Jack Hammer variants – the original being a highly popular very hop bitterness heavy IPA. This, as you may have guessed, is the chilli added variant.