Tag Archive: IPA


Belching Beaver: Orange Vanilla IPA (USA:IPA: 6.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow with a large white mounded sud head.

Nose: Bready hop character. Vanilla. Light orange juice. Slight pineapple. Slight tropical fruit smoothie.

Body: Orange juice. Caramel. Fudge. Vanilla toffee. Tart pineapple. Slight syrupy centre. Moderate hop character. Slightly creamy. Dried apricot.

Finish: Orange juice. Some cream. Good hops and bitterness. Tart pineapple. Slight grapefruit. Vanilla yogurt. Some greenery. Bitterness rises over time.

Conclusion: This very much does what it says on the tin (Or says on the bottle in this case). Lots of orange juice – a kind of bitty fresh orange juice take in fact – then flavoured with a matching big vanilla sweetness that becomes slightly creamy, or even slightly syrupy over time. These notes are matched to a crisp hopped IPA that becomes deeper, oilier and more bitter over time. So, you definitely get what you came for.

On the good side – It does have depth beyond just that with a solid caramel to fudge base that comes out in the gapes in the fruitiness. It also has tarter notes from pineapple to full on tropical fruit smoothies adding more depth and range to what could have been a one note beer.

On the bad side – it does have a slightly artificial and syrupy sweetness to the core. The vanilla can come across akin to the cheaper and more syrupy sweet beers. It doesn’t ruin the beer, but is an unwelcome addition at its heart.

Generally – pretty good and it does the idea very well. It does have a few artificial notes that keeps it only as pretty good. Not a world shaker then, but you can’t fault it for working its gimmick.

Background: A new brewery on me, this caught my eye at Independent Spirit as I wanted something IPAish but this being made “Natural flavours” to bring out the vanilla and orange, whatever that means, made it sounds bit different. They are more open about the hops – mosaic and citra – which is a nice combo to open up with. This was drunk just after finding out that I needed to replace all my photobucket links as they don’t allow linking any-more – so needed a pick me up. Drunk while listening to Against Me! – Black Crosses.

Brewdog: Hazy Jane (Scotland: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy stewed banana to apricot. Medium sized white head.

Nose: Moderate hops and bitterness. Lightly milky. Apricot. Banana. Light greenery. Mango.

Body: Banana. Mango. Slight pineapple. Cloying centre and slightly bready. Light grapefruit. Slightly milky. Tart peach. Hop oils.

Finish: Greenery. Sage. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Mango. Slightly bready. Tart peach. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Slightly wheaty.

Conclusion: OK, this seems to set the balance nicely for a New England IPA in my eyes. Not literally in my eyes, I didn’t pour the beer on my face or anything. Anyway … After trying the nearly zero IBU efforts that seem every common with the style, and after trying the ultra heavy bitterness one from Odyssey, I come to this one that keeps a moderate amount of hops, but definitely concentrates on the fruitiness.

It is still slightly milky in texture and taste, giving that thicker mouthfeel that is in most of the NE style – but what dominates is not that, but a set of lightly tart fruit; From grapefruit, lots of mango and banana and ever some tarter than usual expressed peach.

While this has a super short best before date of barely a month, I am glad that I waited just under a week to do the notes. The first can I had still had a touch of roughness that I have found with super fresh IPAs some times; A few days was all it needed to sort that out and now this has some kind of wheaty style extra grip to it, but with no extra roughness for that grip.

Having spent some time with this I am finding it a good IPA that uses the New England style without being beholden to it and for that showing the best of a more traditional American IPA (If you can call an American IPA traditional in any way).

Still not 100% sold on why everyone is raving about NEIPAs, but this is closer than most to converting me – it is a very good beer. Now If only I can find that Cloudwater NEIPA I tried up in Manchester – I had it mid way into a session, but if doing notes holds up to my memory that may be the one to do it. Anyway, digression aside this is good, but not so super shiny good that it is a must have.

Background: So, the usual disclaimer – I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer – also shareholder’s like myself got a six pack of this free for keeping their shares – in my case grabbing them from Brewdog Bristol. So, yeah, disclaimer out of the way. Yet another New England IPA – everybody is doing them these days. Anyway, decided to go for a bit of Two Step’s From Hell while drinking this – Archangel again. Great epic music for drinking

Odyssey: The Cult (England: IPA: 6.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot skin to brown – very dark for a New England IPA. Massive amount of darkened bubbled head.

Nose: Mashed banana. Crisp hops. Milky to creamy. Slightly bready.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight dill pickle and a prickly hop feel. Hop oils. Kiwi. Dried apricot. Muggy, thick hop centre. Slight sulphur. Slight toffee to caramel.

Finish: Dill pickle. Creamy notes. Kiwi. Good bitterness and hop character. Dry peach. Greenery. Bready. Sulphurous. Apples.

Conclusion: Whelp, this is pretty much unlike any other New England IPA I have encountered, which could explain why – in general – I quite like it. Man that sounds like I’m really hating on the NEIPA style – I’m not, I just think I haven’t quite found the one for me yet. Anyway…

From the New England side of the style we have the cloudy main body and with that an accompanying kind of milky character to the beer – generally smooth, but with a slightly rougher, wheaty styled gripping texture at times.

However unlike the generally low IBU NE beers that I have tried, this just shoves in ladles full of hop oils and thick, gripping, heavy and muggy hop bitterness. Which may be against style guidelines best I can tell – still as a bitterness fan I’m not going to complain too much.

This also tries for the big fruity character of the NEIPA style, though on the heavier and drier end of the scale; It uses kiwi, some sourness from a slight pickle like notes, dried apricot and peach. However while they are present they are always close to being subsumed by the oily, thick hop bitterness.

So, as I’ve said, I enjoyed it – for the most part – but it isn’t without flaws. The mugginess of the hops is up to an almost sulphurous level – which may add a bit of spice to the thing early on, but feels wearing and overly charred by the end. The huge oily hops end up overwhelming the other flavours and makes it a bit one note.

So, while I enjoyed it, most of the enjoyment was in the first half rather than the latter – it really could do with being a 330ml bottle at most – it feels too heavy going for more than that.

So – I did enjoy it, but it still isn’t selling me on the NEIPA style over the more traditional interpretations.

Background: Not been quite sold on the New England style of IPA yet, though I am getting a handle on what it is now after some beers and some research. Since Odyssey a) Do awesome IPAs and b) Did a Black New England IPA that was interesting, I thought I would give their standard NE IPA a try and see how it went. So I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, put some Svalbard on the playlist and sat down to see how things went.

Brewdog: Pump Action Poet (Scotland: IPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale. Clear yellow. Large white, loose mounded head. Some small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Musty hops and dried pineapple. Moderate bitterness.

Body: Vanilla and vanilla yogurt. Tart grapes. Fresh peach and dried apricot. Moderate bitterness. Thick hop oils and fluffy hop character. Quite thick, gripping feel.

Finish: Pineapple. Dried peach. Light hop character and bitterness. More peach as it warms. Shortbread. Tart grapes.

Conclusion: The cult of super fresh would be severely let down by this beer. This is an IPA, right? Made with fruit right? So surely the most fresh you could get it would be the best, drunk on the day of arrival straight from the brewery? In my experience, no. I tried one of these the day it arrived and it felt a bit empty – it really didn’t bring the range of flavours you would hope for and felt a bit thin even. The very fresh character just felt prickly and undeveloped.

The difference a couple of weeks can make, eh? I’ve had this a few times since and it gained a thicker, slightly hop oil led feel, with a very raw, hoppy character. More importantly, that raw hoppy character has also managed to leave room for the special ingredients to come into play where before they were lost in the not quite settled beer. Now it is tart and even slightly sour in how it delivers the peach and apricot notes, with lots of the sour stone character showing through. It merges these with tart pineapple and sour grapes for a solid tart and sour mid body.

So we have here a muggy thick, hop feeling bitterness and sour fresh tart fruitiness. They are cemented together by a slightly neutral vanilla yogurt character, which is probably the weakest part of the deal. It is a thickness that gives little in return and doesn’t rein in, nor accentuate the two poles of bitterness and tartness. However, overall it is a solid IPA and solidly delivers on the stone fruit conceit.

Time, though admittedly only a few weeks, definitely helped this. Yes hopped beers can be great fresh,and you don’t want to leave them too long – but sometimes they can do with just a few weeks after canning so they can mellow and balance everything going on inside. It is solid ( I say that a lot don’t I? I need a new word…) and does the idea well. Not a world shaker, but aye, I’d recommend giving it a go.

Background: The next of Brewdogs limited run can range of this year – they seem to be getting pretty neat can art these days, of which this one is no exception. Grabbed direct from Brewdog’s online store, this is a Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hopped IPA, with added peach and apricot into the mix. I’d tried this a couple of times before doing the notes. On the day of the notes my hay fever was playing up slightly – however I felt the notes were still good and matched my experience of the past few times within expected variance – so I still decided to put them up. This was drunk while listening to Ulver – War Of The Roses. Ulver is awesome background beer drinking music, in all their wide range of experimenting.

Ale-Mania: New England IPA (Germany: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Deep yellow and cloudy body. Thin white head.

Nose: Grapefruit and pineapple. Banana. Guava. Orange juice.

Body: Mango. Smooth. Vanilla toffee. Creamy. No bitterness. Creamy lemon to lemon curd. Hop oils. Orange juice.

Finish: Creamy and milky. Light hop characters. Light hop oils. Bitterness grows over rime. Dried mango.

Conclusion: Another very creamy New England IPA – very thick, very low bitterness – instead concentrating on playing with the fruitiness. With the thickness that the main body it carries a cloying cream character with it as well – not too heavily, just adding a bit of weight to this drink, a bit more thickness to an already robust feel.

The aroma bursts with fresh fruit and while the main body does have similar flavours, it has nowhere near the intensity that the aroma promises. This, so far for me, has been a common trend with NE IPAs. I wonder if it is intentional, and if so why?

Instead of that intense burst, the fruit notes float around the creaminess as a mild, slightly fruit yogurt like character. It’s ok, but I guess I would prefer it if it tended more towards the intensity of the aroma.

Similarly the hop bitterness is very low in this – instead it uses a slick hop oil feel. It does finally give a slow rising bitterness to the finish, but the body has almost 0% bitterness to it.

So, a tad unusual take on the IPA, even given the creamy New England base. The creaminess seems to reduce some of the main characteristics of the IPA style, but despite that it is well made and not bad; More that with the wealth of great IPAs out there I can’t say that this one has much to make it stand out.

Background: New England IPAs seem to popular at the moment, and especially in my experience going around Lower Saxony in Germany. Saw a huge amount of them popping up. This being the first of which I tried – this one at Gig Linden in Hannover. Nor run into Ale-mania before so this is my first experience with them. The day had been fairly hot before this, but we hit the bar early evening so things were starting to chill down a bit. So far I am not 100% sold on the NE IPA style – its ok, usually creamy, sometimes a tad bitty – ok, but I really can’t see why it is blowing up as big as it is. Still, will keep trying them, see if I find the one that makes me get the style.

Verdant: Bloom IPA

Verdant: Bloom IPA (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot to gold. Moderate carbonation. Moderate white fluffy head.

Nose: Good bitterness and fluffy hop character. Lots of pineapple and green grapes. Some apple. Floral. Dried apricot. Vanilla.

Body: Creamy thick texture. Custard slice. Nettles. Hop oils. Kumquat. Passion fruit. Toffee. Kiwi. Milk. Floral. Marshmallow.

Finish: Grapefruit. Grapes and pineapple. Juicy peach. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Some hop oils. Bready. Passion fruit. Milk. Floral air. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: This is a very creamy, thick and milky IPA. Which was unexpected as the can mentioned it had a “Stripped down malt bill”. Possibly they mean stripped down on flavour rather than body, letting the hops do the legwork. Anyway… This is not a common take, the milkiness and creaminess actually makes it feel malt heavy to me – but the milky character does mean that it feels very different to the standard toffee backbone you normally get with these. There are toffee hints but they are not the core here.

On top of that it has quite a floral character, and is an IPA with good level of hop bitterness and hop oils which gives an nice intensity against the soothing base. The hop oils especially work well as they intertwine with the creamy texture.

Under that you find the more traditional set of IPA notes – a mix of fruits – passion fruit, kiwi and pineapple being the most evident. Again the flavours are thicker and creamier than you would otherwise expect. There are fresh touches which keeps it from being heavy, but less fresh and tart than you would expect – generally in line with the character of the rest of the beer.

Overall it is a soothing feeling but big flavoured IPA. Solid in quality and a bit different. The flavours aren’t world shakers, but they do the job. A more relaxed feeling IPA than most but still solidly bitter – good, not great, but fits nicely at the end of the night when the flavours need to be big, and the thicker feel is welcome as a soother before sleep.

Not bad.

Background: Picked up this can about a week ago from Independent Spirit. Between then and now I drank my first Verdant beer at Small Bar and it was very nice – so went into this hoping for a decent beer. Not much else to add – drunk while listening to Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar. A new album on me, very different to what I expected. Which pretty much is Ulver summed up in one sentance.

Wild Beer Co: Cloudy Crowd (England: IPA: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Banana coloured cloudy body with lemon juice edges and apricot coloured core. Inch of moderate white head.

Nose: Banana soft sweets. Apricot skins. Milky. Moderate hop character and slight pineapple.

Body: Bitty hoppiness. Dried apricot. Guava. Good bitterness. Milky back. Thick fruit juice feel. Vanilla. Prickly hop character later on. Slight chalk. Kiwi.

Finish: Mango. Slight cardboard. Solid bitterness. Slight rock notes. Guava. Exotic fruit juice. Greenery. Kiwi.

Conclusion: There seems to be a run on the cloudier, slightly gritty bitterness, big fruitiness IPAs these days. Considering how many get called “New England” style, possibly that is the defining character of those beers. A quick google seems to indicate yes for the cloudiness, but none mention that slightly gritty bitter mouthfeel. Will have to continue investigating and compare with similar ones that come out.

So, how does this one compare to the others of the type I have encountered. Middling. For one, despite the can advertising it as a low bitterness IPA, it has a remarkably big bitter kick in the finish. Now, this is not a flaw by me, but considering how it pitches itself, it may be something you want to be aware of, depending on your preferred level of alpha acid. Anyway, while the high bitterness in the finish ain’t a bad thing by me, what I think is a strike against it is that the bitterness is quite gritty and rough – which is something that needs a bigger beer than this to pull off well.

The body is moderately fruity and juicy – not as big as a lot of this type, but reasonable – pretty satisfying with a solid bitter backing. The aroma and body don’t quite let the juiciness roam though – it feels slightly restrained; Solid but not showy. It gets its best show just between the swallow and the bitterness of the finish – in the air of that moment a nice fruitiness does rise to fill the gap. The restrain then doesn’t seem to come from the hops, which seem to do the job, but possibly from the body being a tad drier than normal – slightly more towards APA that a good IPA.

So – despite my criticisms it is decently done and decently fruity with solid bitterness. Not one of the best beers, but sits just above average but let down by the rough finish that rides roughshod over what the beer should do best. Even that flaw gets less over time as more fruitiness does come to the finish.

A nice little promotion piece but not a must have beer.

Background: I’ve been a fan of Wild Beer Co pretty much since they opened a few years ago. Not every beer has been a hit, but they have never been dull and have done lots of cool experimental beers. So I was interested to see that they have jumped on crowdfunding to build a new brewery. Hope it goes well for them. Their beers deserve wider exposure. Anyway, this little beer, part of a two pack of cans promoting the whole “Invest” thing was grabbed at independent spirit. At a slight criticism, while they were in their cardboard box it was very easy to see info on investing – but pretty hard to see details on what the heck the two beers actually where. Anyway … this was drunk while listening to some of the spektrmodule music podcast for a varied set of tunes.

Northern Monks: Drew Millward: Passion Fruit Lassi IPA – Northern Tropics (England: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Peach skin coloured body with a cloudy and semi opaque centre. Not much carbonation. A large, just slightly yellowed white bubbled head.

Nose: Flour. Crisp hop character. Light pineapple and bitterness. Mild passion-fruit and guava.

Body: Peach and apricot. Caramel. Natural yogurt. Vanilla. Thick. Guava. Dried passion-fruit. Some hop oils. Chives. Slight peppermint. Slight sour cream. Sweet fudge.

Finish: Thick yogurt. Slight mint leaves and chives. Some bitterness. Nana bread. Slight cloying sweet toffee. Mango.

Conclusion: This is a mix of the expected and the unusual. On the unusual side this has a far thicker texture than most IPAs. It feels very natural yogurt influenced in both feel and taste. Nicely it is thick but not heavy, giving grip while still being pretty easy to drink in a kind of milkshake fashion. This styling also brings a slight sour cream and chives cloying note with a peppermint oddity mixed in – a mild note, but kind of refreshing as that. If I had to sum it up I would say that it has an element like this mint dips you get with your poppadoms in some restaurants.

So this has a thick base and some unusual fresh notes within that – they then layer that onto a more traditional big fruity character – passion-fruit, thick guava and some peach. It is slightly cloying in the thick flavour – very yogurt like still and very fruity – the extra grip and thickness pushes the level of fruitiness up without it feeling like just a fruit juice beer.

The thickness does have a few slight drawbacks though. One is that there is a strong vanilla sweetness to the middle of this – done in a similar style to what you would expect from bourbon barrel ageing. The problem is that the cloying thickness interacts with that in such a way that makes it a tad artificial, and well, cloying sweetness. It isn’t hugely off-putting, but does rise over time to become more dominant than I would like.

So this is fruity and thick – slightly unusual – with a little bit less emphasis on the vanilla mixing with the sour cream and greenery notes I think it would work better and be an excellent beer. Not absent , just a tad more subtly used. As is they do hurt the beer a touch, but it is still very enjoyable in its fruity and thick style.

Odd, and pretty good but not great.

Background: Another of Northern Monk’s Patrons Projects – number 4.01 to be exact by the can. This time with Drew Millward, about whom google tells me very little. Anyway, awesome can design on this one – one of the main reasons it caught my eye at Independent Spirit. So I grabbed it. I am fickle that way. I’m not 100% sure if this thing’s name is Northern Tropics, Passion Fruit lassi IPA, or possibly both. Anyway, I looked up what lassi is after drinking – it is a yogurt based drink with spices and fruit that is popular in India. Which suddenly makes a bunch of my notes make more sense – I knew it was yogurt based but not the exact nature. This was drunk while listening to Miracle Of Sound’s Level 7. I’ve finally bought my own copy of it rather than listening to the youtube version. Still good stuff.

Odyssey: Devil May Care (England: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy caramel brown with an apricot hint. Huge beiged frothy head. Moderate amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Pineapple. Caramel. Kiwi. Green grapes and crisp hops. Vanilla toffee. Light bitterness. Chocolate toffee. Mild orange and some blood orange. Vanilla.

Body: Tingling hops. Sour and fresh grapes. Fresh cut apples. Kiwi. Malt chocolate. Bubblegum. Lemongrass. Sulphur. Pineapple. Watermelon. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Grapes. Bitter hops and slight greenery. Bubblegum. Mandarin orange. Lemon grass. Dried apricots. Nettles. Sulphur. Bitterness grows and growls over time. Coffee. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, another big hopped, bitterness forwards boomer from Odyssey. Yet again it is different to the ones that came before. I am seriously getting into these brewers!

This one has a much more solid, darker base – dark malt chocolate, with a slightly rough feel and even an old school sulphurous element. It is very different to the ultra sweet or ultra dry IPAs that are very popular these days. There is a greenery touch to this, and high levels of heavy hop bitterness laden out. This is full of different characteristic being pushed out – a lovable mess of hop influences.

Initially you get very American style fruit with some New Zealand style tart fruit – apricot and grapes mixed with pineapple tartness. It then starts just jumping in every direction – from blood orange which reminds me of some of the newer hop breeds – to a bubblegum and lemongrass character that makes me swear this must have some Sorachi Ace in it. I love a good Sorachi Ace beer, so the impression of it being used here is great – Sorachi must be one of the greatest WTF odd hops around. More seriously, while this may be a mixed up mess, it works. You get a huge range of flavour and huge intensity. Not subtle or distinguished – this just keeps pounding you with different flavours.

So – not subtle – not polished – old school sulphur and intensity meets new school flavours..and..erm intensity. Not for everyone, but for me it a beautiful, wonderful mess that I adore.

Background: I have really been digging IPAs from Odyssey so far, so when I saw this small batch release from them at Independent Spirit it was a no-brainer on if I was going to grab it or not. I drank this after (finally) watching Force Awakens. It was ok I guess. Put on some Rise Against while drinking – mainly Endgame album, but added in “Prayer Of The Refugee” – again the whole anti immigrant hated shit going on currently is on my mind.

brewdog-vs-cloudwater-new-england-ipa

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA (Scotland: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale cloudy coconut touched apricot juice look. Large white crisp bubbled head.

Nose: Pineapple and coconut juice. Dried banana. Light hop character. Light bitterness.

Body: Thick, slightly bitty texture. Apricot and pineapple. Creamy smoothie style character. Light hop character. Fresh peach. Crusty white bread.

Finish: Peach. Coconut. Creamy banana smoothie. Milky. Light hop oils and bitterness. Slight musty dust notes. Malty ovaltine. Slightly gritty, rocky character.

Conclusion: Ok, this is far better than the first bottle – as explained in the background my first experience with this was kind of odd. Anyway, this is a much thicker beer with a bit of an unusual texture with it. It mixes a creamy smoothie style with a slight gritty infusion that comes in late mid body and then rises massively in the finish. I am not 100% sure if it works, as I shall explain, but it is interesting.

To begin with the bitterness level here is low, concentrating more on the fresh fruit and using a touch of coconut style for grounding. Here in the early days the smoothie character rules the roost. Very fruity juice smoothie giving a mix of pineapple, sweet peach and mashed banana. Pretty good start.

As time goes on the grittiness rises, bringing initially just a hop feel, then into that rises hope oils and light bitterness. At this point it is a pleasant addition to the beer – but after that it becomes gritty and with slightly musty bitterness in the finish. It is around this point in the finish that I begin to feel the beer doesn’t 100% work. The rest of the beer is quiet restrained – easygoing and fruity for an IPA. It builds up to a slow drinking , leisurely beer for kind of if not quite session drinking (anything over 6% is not a session beer!). The final musty and gritty moments in the finish make it feel rough. Elements that are good in a bigger more brutal IPA feel out of place in an easygoing one like this.

The thing is, the early fruit juice smoothie with a bit of grip to it still works – it is just let down by the end. So, still reasonable and a bit different but doesn’t work either as a big IPA or an easygoing IPA. So, close but not quite.

Background: Cloudwater know how do do very good IPAs. So do Brewdog. Ok, let’s go with this one. I grabbed two bottles of this – first was slightly thin. Think that something went wrong with bottling on that one- it had a lot of brown gunk in the neck of the bottle – filling about 80% of the area. Think some sediment or yeast issues there. Anyway, this was the second bottle – gunk free, so let’s give it a go. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog. Still plaything Dark Souls 2 – finally broke another DLC area so this was my treat to myself for that bit. Drunk while listening to more Louise Distras.

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