Mash Gang: Northern Monk: Spiritual Journey (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, cloudy lemon juice body that leaves lace. Massive white, loose bubbled head.

Nose: Bitter hops. Cheese puff crisps yeast funk. Lemon on pancakes. Wheaty.

Body: Dry. Very bitter. Black pepper. Charred. Oats. Slightly funky, fluffy mouthfeel. Mild vanilla. Fluffy pastry.

Finish: Milky oats. Mildly oily noble hops. Very bitter. Pepper. Charring. Dried passion-fruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I love the west coast style, stripped down malt backbone, dry and bitter as heck IPAs. My recent notes on USA beers has well established that. So, you would think I would like the very dry, very bitter low alcohol IPAs and pales that exist. That would make sense.

Yet somehow I rarely do, they fit in the same space as most session IPAs where often the lack of malt just makes the high bitterness feel rough.

There are so many hop types in here, some of which I adore in general, but the lack of malt used to make the body and dry character seems to mean that you really have to dig past that dry, charred, peppery bitterness to even try and find their fruitier influence.

It’s most interesting character is a fluffy, oat filled and slightly funky mouthfeel. It is a weird element there as it feels like the beer has little grip for subtle flavours, but the body itself is gripping and sticky, just using that mainly for peppery and slightly harsh bitterness.

If you really dig down, there is stuff under that – kind of crumbly pastry notes, some passion fruit, all still very dry. However it feels like too much effort for too little flavour.

I’m starting to think that less is more with low alcohol beers as every time I see a beer with a huge hop list it ends up just feeling rough, while ones with select choice of hops seem to show a lot more.

This just feels one note. It does the bitterness super bitter, but with none of the more rounded hop character around it and with that I cannot recommend it.

Background: This had quite a pretty can design, caught my eye, is brewed at Northern Monk, who do great beers, and is low abv, which is what I was looking for at the time. So an easy buy then. This was found at Beercraft who continue to be both generally expensive but also well stocked in their low alcohol range. It has quite a varied hop bill, listing Kviek, Magnum, Citra Cryo, Amarillo, Mosaic and Idaho 7 as the included hop types for the double dry hopped pale. Went with Garbage: Not Your Kind Of People as backing music, been on a Garbage kick since their new album dropped.