Tag Archive: IPA


Brew York: Big Eagle 2020 (England: IPA: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Browned gold clear body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a huge off white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Moderate hop character and some bitterness. Quite clean. Slight resin. Soft apricot.

Body: Bitter. Peppery. Slightly charred. Acrid hops. Soft watered down caramel back. Soft fudge. Very dry.

Finish: Acrid hop burn. Gunpowder tea. Dry toffee. Watered down caramel. Heavy bitterness. Charred. Very dry. Peppery. Moss and other greenery.

Conclusion: OK, like Natalie Imbruglia I am torn (and that is a reference that shows my age). On one hand this is better as fuck and nicely dry. Two things missing from so many IPAs these days.

On the other hand, this is a tad acrid, with hop burn very evident early on. It feels like they let it out a few months too early and is suffering from that. The welcome bitter character keeps leaning into over burnt and charred notes.

Flavour wise it is very peppery and it eschews brighter hop flavours to concentrate on the bitterness, which is the primary hop influence here, along with the evident hoppy mouthfeel. The malt is nicely out of the way but not full west coast dryness, with a gentle caramel and dried toffee sweetness evident, though very subtle and way below the hops.

There is a lot of good work in the base – the dry but slightly sweet malt use balancing very drinkable character with just a touch more body- the OH GOD hop kick – but apart from that there is basically just a pine needles and pure hop assault character, which leans too much towards a pepper, charred and burnt character.

I’m still kind of enjoying it, but it is flawed as fuck. They need to ditch the hop burn and make it a big polished hop kick, or balance it out with some complexity added to the pepper hop feel. It just needs something else.

As is, I respect the old school take but it is too unpolished to recommend.

Background: I love York, the place that is. Best place in the UK IMHO. Brew York has been so-so so far, but this one caught my eye as one to give another try. A brewed up version of a very well reputed hoppy pale ale they did a while back. Though I must admit I am never quite sure why brewers keep noticing a beer they did before was well received, so they bring it back with a different recipe. Surely the point is people want the same beer they loved before. Anyway, not tried the beer before so no big deal, just something I notice popping up a lot. Went with New Model Army again for some punk tunes – The Ghost Of Cain to be exact. Need somewhere to vent my energy in lockdown so punk tunes it is. This was grabbed from the reopened and home delivering Independent spirit. YAYZ!

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.

Brew By Numbers: Broaden and Build: C5 India Pale Ale – Blood Orange (England: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale grapefruit juice colour – opaque at the top, and clear around the edges. Large white, loose head.

Nose: Orange rind. Vanilla. Fluffy hops. Tangerine.

Body: Prickly hops. Malt chocolate and toffee. Bitty orange juice. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Tangerine to blood orange. Toffee malt character. Crisp hops. Moderate bitterness. Prickly feeling. Peppery. Nettles.

Conclusion: OK, orangey, yep this has orange notes, got that. Not 100% sure it is screaming blood orange to me, but definitely orangey.

This still manages to surprise me though. The malt bill does not come through in any way like what I expected. It hints towards East Coast style IPAs with the malt use coming through with malt chocolate and toffee styled darker sweetness. Not what I would expect for a blood orange IPA, and not what the lighter coloured body on the eye made me expect. It makes for a very solid malt base, the heavier character possibly is why some of the lighter orange notes don’t express themselves as much as they may have as they have to contend with that dark sweetness. Instead the malt provides a solid base for a prickly, nettle like hop character and moderate bitterness.

Now, its most direct competitor, or point of comparison, is Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell. I prefer that for its fresher and more orange emphasising character, but they are very different beers despite sharing a similar base conceit. This is more solidly beer like, really showing the base malts and the hop prickle – I can respect that. The orange is a dominant characteristic, but this isn’t afraid to let the beer do a good chunk of the work as well.

Its a very solid beer. Good use of the special character but not excessively so. I prefer a bit more out of the way malt in my IPAs but that is personal taste, this is still solid.

Background: Been a while since I grabbed a Brew By Numbers beer, and I’ve only had one, pretty decent, encounter with Broaden and Build. Keep meaning to grab more BBN beers though. They have a huge rep behind a fairly simple numbers based facade. So, I saw this, and I remember enjoying my previous encounter with a Blood Orange IPA from Beavertown, and wanted an IPA. So I grabbed it. Another Independent Spirit beer, who are, understandably, closed at the moment. My heart is breaking still. In respect there is no music listed for this tasting note, and no it is not just because I forgot to write it down.

Arbor: Faked Alaska (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark lemon to apricot. Large loose bubbled crisp head.

Nose: Vanilla custard. Crisp hops. Soft pineapple. Lightly peppery. Cut apple. Apricot. Vanilla fudge. Crushed melon Jolly Ranchers.

Body: Very thick. Melon jolly ranchers. Pineapple. Cut apple. Vanilla. Light hop character and bitterness. Bitty orange. Lemon.

Finish: Pineapple. Crushed custard cream biscuits. Low level hop character and bitterness. Orange. Melon. Lemon.

Conclusion: You know me, not a NEIPA super fan. This does have something though. Probably the super thick texture. There is a whole lot of grip to this beer, that gives even the restrained bitterness of the NEIPA a lot of staying power.

The sweetness is there, but reasonably restrained – giving a custard feeling mouthfeel but only moderate sweetness to match. Which is another element that makes the lowish bitterness work a lot harder than it would in another beer.

It is called a pudding IPA, but I’m not sure from this what dessert it is aiming for. I would guess baked Alaskan from the name, but I have never had one, and a quick google gives me a wide range of suggestions that I presume would taste nothing like this.

This is tart pineapple and lemon notes filled over soothing melon and apple, with low level hops and that super thick base.

Is that a Baked Alaskan? Maybe? Fucked if I know. Google seems to say no, but who trusts them?

This is super thick, tart hopped. Feels like an east coast style IPA, made super thick, but hoppped in a tarter take on a NEIPA style. It is pretty fun. Good tart hop usage in a way we don’t get enough of these days.

Good enough for me then, even if I may quibble on if this counts as an IPA after a few drinks are in me. It has enough hop bitterness and character that before that I would be happy to just accept it as a fun wee beer.

Background: Ok, a NEIPA, or as this puts it a Pudding IPA. I will admit the promise of a beer made with vanilla, and citra, el dorado and mosaic hops got me over my dislike of New England IPAs enough to give it a try. Not had an Arbor beer for a while – they were very solid back before the carft beer explosion, so should be interesting to see how they are doing these days. Another one from Independent Spirit. I went with Garbage: Strange Little Birds while drinking. Still not given that album as much listening time as I should so this was a nice chance to put it on again.

Tiny Rebel: Welcome To The Party Pal! (Wales: IPA: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy to cloudy lemon juice colour body. Very large white, slightly yellowed, mounded head. Very small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Coconut. Vermouth touch. White chocolate. Marshmallow. Peppermint.

Body: Peach. Vermouth. Aniseed touch. Melon. Slightly creamy. Coconut. Menthol.

Finish: Melon. Mint – peppermint. Peppery. Slight hop character and bitterness. Marshmallow but dry.

Conclusion: This is … odd. Probably good. Depending on what you want. I mean, it isn’t one I can drink often – it is a whole mess of strong and unusual flavours, but it has my interest. Despite what it says on the can, and therefore how I list it here, It is not an IPA by any recognisable style guideline– the only really IPA like elements are the higher abv, and having some recognisable hop character in the finish.

The most notable elements are a very present melon character, and a decent chunk of coconut. It’s quite creamy, slightly menthol and minty. A whole bunch of unusual flavours mashed up together.

Now, I’ve never had a snowball cocktail. I now presume that this is what they taste like. It definitely has that kind of cocktail, slightly spirity alcohol feel, and similar that matching cocktail sweetness to try and minimise the alcohol presence.

Now, there is a beer touch to it, but only in the finish. That is where you get an underlying hop bitterness and general hop character which draws a line under the more unusual notes of the body.

So, this is a nice bit of fun, if not overly beer like. Think it would wear out its welcome fast if you tried to have several of them, but as a one off oddity, have a party…

Pal!

Background: DIE HARD IS A CHRISTAMAS MOVIE! There, my hat is firmly thrown in the argument arena. Anyway, yeah, we are not even out of November yet and I’m on the Christmas beers. This an oddity of trying to replicate the snowball cocktail in a beer. Even odder trying to replicate it in an IPA. Oh Tiny Rebel you wild wee scamps. It is made with lactose, but I can’t see any other odd ingredients so I’m guessing it is mainly achieved with the main set (albeit with wheat and oats). Weird. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with super Christmassy music for this one – Slipknot: We Are Not Your Kind Of People. What? Sums up my Christmas.

Salt: Track: Tramshed DDH IPA (England: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly cloudy peach to lemon juice colour. An inch of yellow/white bubbly froth for a head.

Nose: Pineapple. Crisp hop character. Flour. Soft vanilla. Soft peach.

Body: Big peach. A flavour like a non sour gherkin. Tart grapes. Lightly oily hops. White bread. Prickly hops. Slight nettles. Slight vanilla custard.

Finish: Peach. Apricot. Slightly oily and resinous character. Fluffy hop character. Slight bitterness. Pineapple.

Conclusion: Ohh, this is a good IPA. The cloudiness made me worried it was going into full NEIPA mode, and would have none of of the lovely hop character I crave, but, despite the fact it it wears the NEIPA style fruitiness it also has a very pleasant hop character which pushes it closer to the other IPA styles. IMHO anyway.

It is very juicy, with peach, tart grapes and an odd gherkin/pickle like note but without the sourness. Kind of hard to explain, but it is a nice, more savoury note against the huge sweet fruitiness. But again, fruit aside, what makes it work is that hop character. Crisp and clean in the aroma. Lightly oily and resinous in the body, into a fluffy style with present but muted bitterness in the finish.

So, maybe it is like a NEIPA in a few ways, but different enough in the ones that count to me. Fucked if I know which style it actually falls under – the style guidelines don’t exactly match either way. What it does match is the good hop character to sweet fruit, and just a light pineapple fresh character. There is so much fruit that it feels like it matches just enough old school IPA to a touch of what actually works in a NEIPA to the benefit of both styles. It has a slightly dry take that makes me think of West Coast IPAs, while using a touch of vanilla custard malt styling that makes me think East Coast.

Any which way it is a lovely mix up of an IPA. Deffo recommended.

Background: My first experience with Salt was a good one – they managed to put out an impressive Session IPA. A style I’m often not a big fan of, so when I got the chance to grab a full on IPA from they I decided to give it a go. I had a slightly hard time working out who the collaborator was – from the small icon on the can it looked like it said “TAACW”. Turns out it is track. Guess that font doesn’t handle being shrunk well. Don’t think I’ve tried anything from them before – though with over 2000 tasting notes these days I will admit I lose track some times. No pun intended. Went back to Tool: Fear Inoculum for drinking music. It is sooo good. This is another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Lervig: Infinite Timelines (Norway: IPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy yellow. Large white head that mounds up. Moderate small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Creamy. Peach. Slight hop oils. Slight rye crackers. Slight pepper spice. Pumpkin. Lemon cakes.

Body: Mild lemon curd. Middling bitterness and hop character. Moderate hop prickle. Creamy pineapple yogurt. Banana milkshake. Hop oils.

Finish: Good hop character. Custard sweetness and good bitterness. White grapes. Slight pink grapefruit. Banana. Tangerine. Mild oily notes.

Conclusion: This beer has made me ask, what even is a NEIPA these days? I ask, not just because I didn’t realise this was a NEIPA when I bought it, and now I am really enjoying it, so obviously I need to mentally work out a way it is not a New England IPA so I can happily drink it while keeping up my anti NEIPA snobbery – No, there are other reasons as well! I’m just wondering where exactly the line is between a New England IPA, and all the other takes, as, well this is pretty atypical. Also awesome, maybe for me because it is atypical.

It probably doesn’t really matter. Style guidelines are just that, guidelines, a way for us to have a rough idea what it is we are getting, not some straitjacket of execution. It will still bug me. Because I am silly. Hey, at least I’m honest. On this matter at least.

The main thing that made me think about this is how it hits the eyes. It is slightly hazy, but nowhere near as cloudy as usual. I have to admit I thought that was one of the defining elements of the style, so I was already a tad confused here.

Similarly it ha a decent hop character in a way that I thought it was traditional for NEIPAS to shun – Slight hop oils, good hop prickle and middling bitterness. It feels generally like a bit smoother than normal IPA, if I had to pin down I would say closer to East Coast than any other take but not really matching any given definition – just a really good IPA. Nicely oily, but not heavy or “dank”, just definitely happy to use that part of the character.

Maybe it is the fruitiness that makes it a NEIPA. This is a super fruity mix – tangerine, pineapple, peach, lemon curd – lots of different notes that are delivered very cleanly so they come across as the fruit itself rather than a hop approximation of the fruit. There is some hop influence in the flavours, but if I had to compare them to anything I would say milkshake like. In fact, while not dominated by it, I would still say that this is a better milkshake IPA than 90% of the self named milkshake IPAs that I have encountered. A sweet banana malt base is the main part of it, and it helps everything else just slip down.

This therefore feels like it is not limited to any one particular IPA take, and I think that is why I love it. It takes the best from so many IPA takes and makes it more than the sum of its parts.

Lovely fruity, creamy and hoppy beer. Such a good IPA.

Background: This was a pretty random grab. Saw it at Independent Spirit, thought that Lervig beers had been pretty good to me so far, so picked it up. So as mentioned in the notes, I didn’t notice this was a NEIPA, one of my less preferred takes on the IPA style. It is made with rye and oats as well as the usual malt barley and hopped with Mosaic, and two I don’t know – Denali and Idaho 7. Went with a bit of Mclusky for some awesome, heavy but weird music to back it up.

Overtone: IPA Comet/Waimea (Scotland: IPA: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot with yellowed edges. Large mounded yellowed head.

Nose: Peach. Malt chocolate drinks. Hop prickle. Apricot. Lightly peppery. Milky coffee.

Body: Good bitterness. Greenery. Resin. Malt chocolate drinks. Prickly hop character. Apricot and dried apricot. Slight tart grapes. Palma violets. Slight custard.

Finish: Toffee ovaltine. Prickly hops and greenery. Palma violets. Charred hops. Slight hop burn. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: In all that I have been happy to find and champion some really good west coast style IPAs recently, mainly in response to everything being a gosh darn NEIPA recently (ok, ok, some are Brut and milkshake, but NEIPA is the one I see most), I have realised that in doing so I have been forgetting the joy that can come from its maltier cousin the east coast style IPA.

This isn’t 100% east coast style, but close enough for comparison. It pushes apricot as the main fruity hop character, but the fruitiness is not the main element here. Instead the main thing it pushes is the malt chocolate …erm ..malt character (Ok I could have worded that better) against a very green bitter hop style. It’s got a slight rough hop burn but mild enough that it is an appealing edge rather than painful harshness like some I have encountered.

It’s a solid take, slightly overly greenery touched, but generally good bitterness. Over time you get used to the slightly harsher, almost gunpowder tea like notes and it gives a bit more room in the beer, letting some gentle custard sweetness come out. A decent mix of the hop kick, malt weight and soothing sweetness.

Ok, and yes there is some fruit, but as mentioned it isn’t the main thing. Notable elements include a slight grape note that comes out over time that gives a fresher note just when it is needed.

It is a little rough around the edges, a bit greenery, a bit hop burn like, but generally it is a solid one. A decent malty IPA with good hop weight, not the best but does the job.

Background: Overtone. One letter off being able to make an overton window joke. Darn it. Though I am still wondering what would happen if they moved the windows in their brewery. Anyway, a new brewery that I ran into in Independent Spirit. Went with their IPA to try them, as that is my general go to beer for a new brewery. Comet and Waimea isn’t a set of hops I would say I knew well enough to describe too well, so should be fun examining them. Went back to Crossfaith: Ex_Machina as music for this one, freaking love that album. High octane electronic meets metal.

Northern Monk: Stigbergets: Garage: Insa: Patron’s Project 17.02 Ethel Tropical IPA (England: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark apricot. Very large yellow-white tight bubbled head.

Nose: Mango. Apricot skin. Light hop prickle. Light bitterness.

Body: Tropical fruit juice. Mango chunks. Slight sour cream twist. Creamy texture. Thick. Hop oils. Oily fruit. Passion fruit. Vanilla. Slight apple.

Finish: Sour cream. Mango. Moderate bitter hops. Slightly oily. Passion fruit. Slightly resinous. Slight flour. Peach syrup. Tangerine hops.

Conclusion: Fucking hell this is fruity – slightly dried fruit meets oily fruit in a strange but delicious clash. Now, I can find overly fruity IPAs a bit disappointing sometimes when they lose the beer side – especially in beers like this where a lot of actual fruit is used in the making. However, here they do not disappoint!

It is slightly oily, very slightly resinous in the finish with moderate hop character and solid bitterness – a decent beer character that is admittedly still a backing to the natural feeling fruit. The fact that fruit flavours are, in part at least, drier helps keep things feeling IPA like – even though the mouthfeel contrasts with syrupy and creamy style. It’s an odd effect – the taste isn’t super sweet, but that creamy, syrupy mouthfeel makes it feel like it is actually sweeter than it really is, creating an odd sensation as you drink. Nicely done.

Early on it is the fruit created fruit flavours that push themselves out to the front (ohh that is just a clumsy sentence, but stick with me here please), hiding the hop created fruit flavours behind them. Later on though the distinctly hoppy fruit character becomes more evident, especially in the finish. Up to that point I had been viewing the beer as a tad over fruit juice like, even with the hop bitterness, but this swooped in and nullified that flaw and giving another note to the end of the beer, a bit of interest as the intrigue of the earlier notes are starting to wane.

So, downsides? Well the sightly full on fruity and thick character may not be for everyone – definitely not a sessionable beer by any measure, even a second one may be a bit much. It is definitely a one at a time kind of beer.

Still, a lovely tropical fruit IPA that doesn’t forget the IPA side of the equation.

Background: So many things made this a beer I knew I was going to try. Northern Monk, especially their Patrons Projects have been on point so many times. Garage have been great in the few beers I’ve tried from them, and Stigbergets reasonable as well. So, yeah a hop forwards beer from them was definitely one I was interested in. This is made with El Dorado, Cashmere, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus hops. More than that they added papaya, passion fruit and mango. I’m not too much of a fan of over fruit juice IPAs but with the talent behind this I was hopeful they would do well. Also such a long name when you include all the collaborators and artists, which makes this a pain to type but doesn’t hurt the beer. This is another one from Independent Spirit. Went with the indie fun of Throwing Muses self titled album for backing music.

To Øl : CPH – The Boss (Denmark: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Good inch of yellow white loose head.

Nose: Crisp bitter hop character. Bitty pineapple chunks. Grapefruit. Slightly bready hops.

Body: Tart grapefruit. Light flour. Low level bitterness. Vanilla. Mandarin orange develops over time.

Finish: Grapefruit. Pineapple. Low level hop character. Custard cream biscuits. Slight flour. Mandarin orange.

Conclusion: Ok, a short while back I bemoaned the lack of IPAs these days that truly commit to the tart grapefruit heavy IPAs that you got back when Nelson Sauvin hops were first all the rage. Well, sometimes you ask for something and end up getting it is spades!

This is grapefruit dominated all the way baby! Some pineapple backing as well, but mainly grapefruit. However it feels different to the big grapefruit IPAs of old. They were clean and tart, either dry and with the malt out of the way or sweet and tart. This uses the texture of the beer to call to ragged grapefruit and pineapple chunks that are nearly falling apart, leaving bits everywhere on the tongue. It is a style that allows the beer to call back to those previous classic while still innovating nicely.

Very nice, very tart, if kind of one note at the start. It takes a while for the vanilla character from the malt to come out, instead you mainly get a very New England style thicker texture, slightly wheaty or oat thickened mouthfeel to the body. Hops are present in a low level but pricking bitterness way. Enough to definitely be an IPA, but far from heavy.

Finally, late on, tart mandarin orange comes out, a much needed extra note to bring back a bit of interest and zest at the end. It is still a tad too one note to be a classic, but mixes a solid bitterness, a new take on grapefruit tartness, a nice use of New England style mouthfeel without otherwise bowing to the NE style, and puts it together to make a pretty damn nice IPA.

Background:Also listed as being brewed by Brus, this is brewed at To Øl’s brewpub (the aforementioned Brus). Normally To Øl do contract brewing if I remember rightly, so a chance to grab some of their brewpub’s stuff in can was very special. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is a double dry hopped IPA made with Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe (no Nelson Sauvin, much to my surprise as you may notice from the notes). I put on Rise Against – “The Suffering and The Witness” while drinking, a pretty good one, even if it can’t quite live up to Endgame for all time great album status.

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