Marston: Devil’s Backbone: American IPA (England: IPA: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear browned gold body. An off white, thin head that leaves suds as it descends.

Nose: Good hop character. Soft lime. Fresh dough to brown bread. Slight sulphur. Greenery.

Body: Solid bitterness. Mild golden syrup. Creamy lime and kiwi. Reasonably thick body with syrupy touches. Pine needles and resin. Vanilla and custard touches.

Finish: Lime. Reasonable bitterness and hop character. Prickly hops. Kiwi. Vanilla fudge. Resin. Hop oils. Grapes. Sugared apricots.

Conclusion: You know, I may catch some shit for this, but this is a solid IPA.

The body however is, well, odd I will admit. It has that standard, slightly syrupy thick style that Marstons seem to use in their beers a lot. Not really American IPA style, any of them, but still something I can live with here.

What I like about this is that it actually uses the damn hops like they always used to in an IPA. Good bitterness, solid resinous character and hop oils along with a fluffy hop feel. It may not be a masterclass but I can taste a nice hop kick. I’m missing that in a lot of IPAs these days, even when I avoid NEIPAs.

Fruit hop flavour wise it is a reasonable if not not inspiring mix of green fruit – lime, kiwi and grape, all quite sweetly delivered. In fact the whole thing is fairly sweet under the hops with a heavy vanilla influence over the slightly syrupy body.

It’s decent, a very Marston familiar body meets good hop use, if with unoriginal hop flavours choice, but you know, I’ll take that. A nice hop kick with an odd choice of malt backing.

I genuinely could see this being a nice regular beer to visit for a good hop infusion. Not stand out, but goes down nicely and not too expensive.

Background: While they are back via delivery, for a while in this virus lock-down a lot of bottle shops have been closed. So I decided to take advantage of this time to look at how the beer selection has changed in supermarkets over the years and do some notes. This one is from a local Co-Op. I first saw This beer in one of my rare visits to Weatherspoons. I respect Weatherspoons’ beer selection and decent price, but their owner is a grade A fucking shit. So, I tend to only go when mates want to or it is the only available choice. No seriously, the owner is a complete cockwomble. Devil’s Backbone is a USA brewery but this was brewed at Martson’s in the UK. First time around people from Devil’s Backbone came over to help, now I’m guessing it is just brewed under licence or similar. I found this out by a quick google, my suspicions were raised by a) The brewer listed as Marstons hidden in small print on the back of the label. And b) the text that opens “Hey there Englanders!” followed by some real folksy bullshit. In my experience no beer label from a beer actually brewed in the USA opens with anything quite that twee. Anyway, I put on a bunch of old superbursts and other Warren Ellis curated music podcasts while drinking.