Tag Archive: IPA

Robinson: Beardo (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clean gold. Good amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin mound of an off white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine fresh spray. Lime. Cardboard. Cake sponge. Wood polish.

Body: Sulphur. Some hop character. Popcorn. Cardboard. Kiwi. Cut apples. Malt drink. Solid bitterness. Slight chalk.

Finish: Kiwi. Vanilla toffee. Cardboard. Nettle tea. Some tannins. Gritty bitterness. Charring. Sulphur. Brown bap rolls.

Conclusion: What is it about otherwise good breweries turning out really dull and uninspiring IPAs recently? Though at least this one is recognisable as an IPA, even if it is not a good one. It has bitterness but just in a cardboard and charred way – it has hop character but kind of gritty and rough in that.

This follows through into the malt – kind of dull, some vanilla and some dull malt drinks. The fruit hop flavours that you would expect of a craft IPA are there in a green fruit way, but very underwhelming. The entire beer has a sulphurous touch in an old British IPA way, but without the rest of the British IPA notes that make that work.

It feels like a British IPA style, trying to do the USA style hops without changing anything else and therefore not getting the point of either. It is dull, flawed and rough edged. Admittedly still a better IPA than Indie Pale Ale, but like that has a lager feeling edge that weakens it, again without gaining any of the benefits of that style.

This is a genuinely bad beer – it takes the weak points of everything it is inspired by and puts in in one beer. It isn’t isn’t utterly ruined from the brewing standpoint – but from the combined elements it has that don’t work it becomes a very bad beer. Genuinely avoid this one.

Background: This was a birthday gift from my mate Tony. Many thanks. Even though it is shit πŸ™‚ He did also give me other, not shit, beers. Robinson’s are generally a good brewery, but never really struck me as craft, so I was in mixed mind about this, obviously craft inspired, beer. Not much else to say put some No Doubt on while drinking. That is about it.


Burnt Mill: Green Path (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, mix of clear body with hazy streaks throughout. Large yellow mound of a head. Some hop bits floating within.

Nose: Woods and pine needles. Floral. Good hop feel. Moderate bitterness. Moss. Dried apricot.

Body: Good bitterness. Pine needles. Resin. Dry. Dry grapes. Dry mandarin orange. Soft notes of toffee. Dried apricot. Flour. Light custard. Soft lemon.

Finish: Light charred oak. Solid bitterness and hop character. Drying. Flour. Sulphur. Moss.

Conclusion: This is pretty dry, pretty good hop character and has a solid bitterness. All of that is a good start for an IPA – especially the west coast style. Whoop!. It has got the base concept down well – the question is what garnishes it manages to add to the dish to take that beyond that.

It starts off with quite a floral, flour touched character in the aroma – lots of outdoors imagery and flavours coming in with this one. It is interesting but not quite blowing me away. Now this beer has an awesome hop selection – but it seems to bring its notes in subtly. The fruit notes are very dry, and with it comes the drying bitter character.

It feels like a beer that I really want to like as it gets the base so well done – so drying yet with just enough tartness to not make it painful to drink. It has only the tiniest hint of sweetness against the bitterness but again good enough to offset it. It is just the rest of the beer doesn’t quite pay off that base.

In fact, the name β€œGreen Path” does seem appropriate to sum up the beer – the greenery and moss like notes grow over time, feeling like a more earthy and grounded UK take on an IPA matched to the west coast style. Fascinating, but that doesn’t make it a must drink for me. There aren’t many flaws – the hop remnants left in the beer were a surprise on the pour, and made it feel a tad bitty near the end – but for the most part it is less that it has flaws, but that it doesn’t quite make the most of what it has.

Lots of talent went into a beer that doesn’t quite click for me **Shrug** make of that what you will.

Background: Listed as a β€œCitra and Mosaic IPA”, some reviews online list a cask version as β€œCitra, Mosaic and Enigma” So I’m guessing they have mixed up the recipe for the canned version. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit – Burnt Mill was voted best new Brewery in England 2017, so I thought I really should check them out. This is listed as a West Coast leaning IPA, which is a style currently oft overlooked in the New England craze so I figured it was worth giving a shot. I put on some Genitorturers to listen to while drinking this – heavy hops deserve some heavy, out there industrial metal music.

Lervig: Cloudwater: There’s a Cold Beer In My Fridge And I Need A Drink (Norway: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Murky dark apricot with a massive yellow-white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Pine needles. Resin. Oily hop character. Pineapple. Vanilla and custard cream biscuits. Watercress. Wheaty air.

Body: Sticky, oily hop bitterness. Apricot. Kumquat. Soft grapes. Love heart sweets. Thick creamy texture. Peach juices.

Finish: Stewed apricot. Sticky oily hops. Solid bitterness. Moss. Raw eel sashimi. Resinous. Brown bread.

Conclusion: On first glance I rolled my eyes at this one, as this came out looking like the prototypical New England IPA. It is all cloudy and hazy on the eye, which is a nice look I will admit, and the NEIPA is not a bad style, but it is not my favourite style due to often taking a light, low bitterness take on the style which is not what I was looking for right now.

This beer quickly kicked that idea into touch. Pine needles and oily hops come out in the nose, then into sticky, oily bitterness in the body, and a solid bitter kick on the way out. This packs in all the nice alpha acids and oily hop character that I like in an IPA. Obviously if you like the low IBU, smooth NEIPA style, your mileage may vary significantly.

Beneath that the fruit is juicer and thicker than in most NEIPAs – using the creamy texture for extra mouthfeel but not tying the fruit character to a similar smoothness. Instead they give sticky stewed apricots and grapes to match the sticky hops punch for punch. There is good use of a savoury kumquat style backing and moss like notes underneath – mixed with a umami, kind of eel sashimi, hard to place kind of character – basically savoury grounding notes against a big peach syrup sweetness that adds range around the solid bitterness.

All together a great IPA – uses the creaminess of NEIPA, the β€œdank” hops of current popular trends, and the fruit use of a more traditional USA IPA. What keeps it from classic status is a lack of range to come out throughout the beer- it just lacks extra notes to dig into as time does on, but that is about all. Another great IPA.

Background: Ok, this was basically pressed into my hand at Independent Spirit, and I was told to grab it. So I did. Let’s face it Cloud water know their hop beers, and Lervig have a good rep – plus the can looks like someone vomiting up green. Which is nice. Always the best reasons to grab a beer. Anyway, made with rye in as well, so that is an actual thing about the beer.

Pirate Life: Mosaic (Australia: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to apricot skin. Mild haze to the beer but mostly clear. Good sized sturdy white head. Some small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gentle nutmeg. Moderate hop character and some bready bitterness. Stewed fruit – both rhubarb and apricot stand out.

Finish: Peach melba. Dried apricot. Good hop character and bitterness. Custard. Light mint and juniper berries. Crushed love heart sweets.

Conclusion: Now this is what I like – a bit of body to my IPAs. This has a lovely creamy and fruit syrup thick body to it while avoiding that artificial syrup crystallised sugar feel. Instead it just has that oozing fruit styling, and bringing similar fruity notes with it. It takes a very thick, stewed fruit set of notes from apricot and even rhubarb, mixed with lighter peach melba like notes.

The body, while thick and creamy, feels comparatively flavour neutral. It feels like a weight attached to the hop flavour, deliberately trying not to be a flavour entity in itself – it is just happy to be the foundation and let the fruity hops do their thing.

Unlike the current trend, this also shoves up the hop bitterness to go with the hop fruitiness. Initially fairly gentle at first, letting the fruit do all the work, it rises to a good intensity while never eclipsing the juicy fruit flavours.

This is full, fruity and sense tingling with the hop kick. It really makes full use of its abv, not by showing it as burn or boozy character, but instead giving that thickness to really let the flavours grip in a way that only a higher abv beer can. A genuinely enjoyable ipa – I love it as a beer in itslef and a a brilliant Mosaic showcase. Now please don’t ruin it InBev!

Background: This is why we can’t have nice things in life. About a week or two after I bought this, InBev go and buy the brewery. Now it is possible they won’t fuck it up – however I am not holding my breath. Anyway, an Australian brewery! And one I have not previously encountered. Mosaic is an awesome hop, and I love IPAs, so this seemed like a good beer to use to check them out. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for an absolute classic of the gloomy metal genre for listening music – Paradise Lost – Draconian Times. Bloody love that album.

Stigbergets: Amazing Haze (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon to peach colour. Cloudy body and thin white head. Some carbonation is visible.

Nose: Smooth hop character. Cake sponge. Peach skin.

Body: Smooth hop character and crisp bitterness. More oily hops as it warms. Soft apricot. Some greenery. Milky. Peach.

Finish: Cake sponge. Milky. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Slightly resinous. Greenery. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Short way to describe this? It does what it does well, but I want it to do a bit more though.

This is more, well, hoppy that a bunch of the New England IPAs I’ve encountered – it has a good use of the hops in the mouthfeel producing a resinous and hop oily character. It has a solid level of bitterness and generally a solid hop character all around. As a hop head I have to admit a higher level of bitterness and hop feel in an IPA definitely draws me to it, even if that isn’t really what the NEIPA style is all about.

Flavour wise is seems a bit more simple – rather than the huge range you get with the hop feel – the mix of oily, hoppy and resinous characters – for the flavour it leans into soft peach and apricot in a creamy fashion. It is nice, but feels weak against the bigger hop character. It is an ok, if not wide ranging flavour, but that is the main point that comes to mind when I say that it needs a bit more.

It needs either more range, more subtle notes, or more push of the limited flavours it does has – as tight now the milky NE fruit style can’t compete with the bigger hops.

It is a good beer at what it does, but I want more.

Background: Saw this being hyped up a bit when it arrived, hadn’t heard about it so did a quick look round and yeah, this is seriously well rated IPA online so I thought it would be worth a try – even if the New England interpretation isn’t my favourite of the IPA styles. So, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Broke open this while listening to Rise Against: Siren Songs Of The Counter Culture – I know it catches some shit as the first time they went with a major label, but I still think it is a decent album.

Northern Monks: Verdant: Patron’s Project 9.01: Captain North (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice with lots of carbonation and a massive white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat. Lemon. Lightly peppery character. Dried pineapple.

Body: Very bitter. Peppery. Oatmeal. Apples. Slight kiwi fruit and egg plant. Mild toffee. Dried pineapple. Flour. Soft peach. Milky.

Finish: High bitterness and hop character. Peppery. Eggplant. Pineapple. Apples.

Conclusion: This takes some time to get going – early on it is all bitter hops and peppery character; Not something I generally complain about as a hop head, but I like a beer to have a bit more going to round it out. A high hop bitterness can’t do the whole job by itself, much as some beers may try.

Time lets out some soft green fruit and tart pineapple -often the fruit notes seem to come across in a dried fruit fashion, but there are some fresh and tarter notes that occasionally come out. It results in a soft balance to the peppery bitterness, backed by a solid oatmeal tasting and thickness of character. It is better like this but still feels solid rather than exciting – with the oatmeal like base, pepper, flour touches there is a lot grounding the beer, with the high bitterness being the biggest element and it feels like it doesn’t let the flavour range these hops should have really show. Again, more time can allow some soft peach, in a milky fashion come out- but it is light and feels like you are trying to reach it through porridge.

It is a bit too much grounding, with too little on the showy side for me. Good bitterness, but as I said that can’t make a beer work by itself.

Background: I mainly bought this ‘cos the can looked pretty. A run down Captain America looking dude but with an N for north on his head and a pint in his hand. While comics have not given up a Captain North yet they have given us a Captain Britain, and a Captain Midlands. No I am not making that last one up. Genuine truth mate. Anyway this is an IPA made with Azacca, Ekuanot, Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic hops. I only recognise the last two, but they are some good hops – think I have encountered the others, but couldn’t give any real details on them. Another one from Independent Spirit – I am making up for lost time.

Heroes Beer: Cereusly +50DB IPA (Hong Kong: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Thin white head over a clear body.

Nose: Lemon. Gooseberry. Good hop character.

Body: Juicy. Kiwi. Solid bitterness. Hop oils. Big hop character. Vanilla toffee. Gooseberry and tart grapes. Lemongrass. Frothy mouthfeel. Bready middle.

Finish: Good, heavy bitterness and hop oils. Charring. Dried black tea to gunpowder tea. Lemon sherbet.

Conclusion: This, at the end of the trip, is the first big, utterly stand out beer I have tried. I make no secret for my love for big hops in an IPA and this has that in spades.

This opens up juicy and fruity, a slight pause of kiwi before hitting with the aggressive bitterness afterwards – The green fruit of the early moments quickly falls to bitterness, charring and gunpowder tea like notes which last a long time. Late body tart gooseberry and tart grapes comes out, a refreshing release of fresh character, before it descends back into bitterness and bitter tea in the finish. It is a roller coaster ride of peaks and troughs, throwing you between sensations and only slowly letting the vanilla toffee straights of the ride show through as moments to catch your breath.

It is raw edged, yet does not feel unpolished. An assault IPA that keeps you interested to the end. It even manages as much subtlety as such a raw, assault beer can, far more than the average beer this intense, which makes for a sense awakening but not single note beer.

The Jackhammer of Hong Kong, but, if I may say so – even more intense, and more complex. Hop heads in HK, check this one out – it is the one you are looking for. I seriously hope this gets a wider distribution so more people can enjoy it. It deserves it. A proper great, intense IPA.

Background: I hunted out the Kowloon Taproom to try some more Hong Kong craft beer, and it did not disappoint – all decorated up for Halloween, with the staff in costume. It is a fairly small place and filled up fast, but the staff were great, very friendly and so enthusiastic about their beer. Had a chance to chat with some patrons and tried a fair range of beer. Some seriously good stuff. This, promising to be a big IPA, caught my eyes instantly and so was the first beer of the night.

RAN Craft Beer: IPA (China: IPA: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown. Thin off white to cream coloured bubbled head.

Nose: Creamy caramel and toffee. Light sulphur. Dried mango and kiwi. Dried apricot.

Body: Caramel. Sulphur. Creamy. Kiwi. Grapes. Kinda thin. Low bitterness and hop character. Dried apricot. Slightly muggy.

Finish: Caramel. Tart grapes. Apples. Kiwi. Sulphur. Some hop character. Slightly watery. Fudge. Cream. Dried apricot.

Conclusion: This is pretty disappointing as an IPA, to use a certain degree of understatement. There is some hop character, but it is kind of muggy with low present bitterness. So a bad start.

Part of the problem, I think, is that it doesn’t seem to know what kind of IPA it is aiming for. It has that light sulphur character that can come with a British real ale IPA – and here that feels like an off note out of its natural real ale habitat. It has the caramel sweetness of an east coast IPA but with a much thinner body so it doesn’t deliver it well, and without pushing the fruity notes as well as such an IPA tends to do. It feels too wet and lacking in hop bitterness for a west coast IPA and distinctly lacks the fruit punch and creaminess for a New England IPA.

So, instead of comparing it on and on to the other IPA variants it doesn’t match I ask – how does it do as a new take on the IPA on its own, is it any good?

Well, sub par shall we say, to be kind. Too watery, a few off notes, muggy bitterness and low clarity of fruit flavours. It has elements that could be improved to make a good beer, but pretty much everything needs pushing up a notch. More body, more hops, more flavour. As it is, it is one of the more disappointing IPAs I’ve had and one of the more disappointing beers of the China trip. Not the worst beer, I’ve had – especially considering some of the wet air pale lagers I have run into, but definitely more disappointing as this shows hints that could be made, with a lot of effort, into something decent,

A definite avoid.

Background: I genuinely can’t find shit on these guys online – I randomly wandered over their pub while walking around Yangshuo. So, erm, yeah it is a brewery I ran into and had a beer at. Went for IPA as it tends to be a good go to beer for an unknown brewery. That’s about all I can say really.

Great Leap Brewing: Chesty Puller A-IPA (China: IPA: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Creamy white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Gooseberry and kiwi. Banana. Moderate creamy hop character.

Body: Gooseberry. Light apricot. Good hop character. Light greenery. Light brown sugar.

Finish: Slightly oily. Apricot and greenery. Kiwi. Light dry golden syrup. Good hop character and bitterness. Lightly earthy.

Conclusion: My first IPA of the trip! I tend to find IPAs good go tos for judging a craft beer brewery as they are often the mainstay of a range. So short version – good hop use, average malt body. Boom. Notes done!

Ok, more detail – hops first. The hop use, while not show stopping, mixes American style apricot notes with NZ gooseberry tartness. Despite being named an A-IPA, it feels like it leans harder on the tarter notes to my mind, if I hadn’t been told they were aiming for American IPA I would have guessed it as a more NZ inspired beer myself. Then again, there are plenty of tart American hops, so its probably just my own preconceptions. Anyway, there is a lot of greenery, hop oils and even slight earthy hop character leading out in the finish giving a much more rustic styling to the ending against the tart main body. Lots of hop influence going on then, not raw bitterness, nor clean fruit, this is instead beer that seems to exploit a wide range of the available IPA styles for influences, which is cool.

So, onto the malt – the base could do with bit more body early on, though it does develop fairly nicely as it warms. Nothing too out of the normal though – It comes across slightly harsher that feels right – more a dry golden syrup style that a smooth sweet backing – but it doesn’t overly hurt the beer. It makes it feel like a rounded, characterful beer rather than a super polished expression, so in some ways the odd notes actually add to that.

So, average body, good hops – not a super stand out IPA but a solid pint, Rough edged but good flavour – a fair entry in their range but doesn’t insist on being tried above other IPAs.

Background: I am embarrassed how long it took me to realise A-IPA stood for American IPA. Anyway….. This was a hard wee Brewpub to find – they had several stashed around Beijing, but the one I hunted out was β€œOriginal 6” – the first they set up – tucked away in a hutong. I was glad that I a) had a map I had printed out on how to get to it and b) had maps in the hutong itself to compare it to, as this was tucked right in the backstreets and I was worried I was completely in the wrong area. I was not alone in this – while waiting for it to open I ran into two tourists looking at their smartphone map and wondering if they were lost, so I volunteered to show them where it was. Anyway, this was the first beer I tried, kicking back and relaxing after vast amounts of walking at the Great Wall the previous day. 1000 steps just to get to the wall. I earned this beer.

Odyssey: Deya: Beautiful Blueberry (England: IPA: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Deep red brown. Raspberry yogurt looking small bubbled head. Cloudy to opaque main body.

Nose: Green hops. Resinous character. Greenery. Blueberry. Fresh cut apples. Raspberries.

Body: Creamy. Hop oils. Blueberry yogurt. Moderate bready bitterness. Greenery.

Finish: Good hop character. Some bitterness but not heavily so. Greenery. Brown bread. Blueberry. Slight gherkin sour note. Resinous.

Conclusion: This is a very different mix to what I expected for this beer – in that the balance between the fruit and the base IPA character works very different to what is usually done. Now it has a heavy use of blueberry flavour, that bit I expected, what I didn’t expect is how it interacts with the hop use against it. I was expecting something creamy smooth, something that emphasised the fruit flavour over the hop bitterness – mainly I was expecting that due to the NE IPA craze at the moment. Nope. Nothing like that.

This dives straight into the IPA side of things – Hop oils, resinous notes, greenery lead and with brown bread touched bitterness. It has a dedication to the bitterness and hops that a lot of fruit IPAs avoid. It results in a clash of two big contrasting flavours in the beer.

Does it work? Not so much early on, more so over time. It isn’t the most complex Odyssey beer, instead it just seems to concentrate on its two big pillars of flavour – the berries and the hop character. Early on it is a bit resinous – a style I usually like but doesn’t work brilliantly with the blueberry character – it feels clashing rather that complementing and contrasting. Time helps, letting the fruit rise and lets the bitter hop notes meld better with them – it feels less prickly resulting in a still harsh, bitter but fruity beer. I’ve seen this described as a milkshake IPA and I would have to disagree with that. It does have some creamy notes, but it is a much more raw IPA than that – especially compared to the current trends in super smooth IPAs currently.

So, a little rough early on, but settles into a super fruity, super hoppy IPA as it goes – not perfect, and not Odysseys best, but neither of those are huge criticisms. Solid, and shows that a fruit beer doesn’t mean you have to go light on the hop character.

Background: Ok, by now everyone knows I love the Odyssey hopped beers, especially their IPAs – not run into Deya before so no opinion on them. However this blueberry infused IPA was one I grabbed quickly – in part as Independent Spirit only had a few bottles so I had to decide fast, and leant towards the grab a beer from Odyssey side of the spectrum. It rarely lets me down. Anyway, I put some Warrenpeace while drinking – probably my favourite find from Scroobius Pip putting up a bunch of free stuff on speech development records.

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