Tag Archive: IPA


Northern Monk: Nomad Clan: Patrons Project: 2.07 Bare Bones (England: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice – nigh opaque. Large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot chunks. Lightly resinous and oily. Good hope prickle. Grapefruit.

Body: Oily. Gherkin tartness and savoury mix. Soft malt choc toffee and malt choc orange. High hop prickle. Pineapple and grapefruit. Dried banana.

Finish: Oily. Dry hop character. Slight gunpowder tea. Pineapple and grapefruit. Oily apricot. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Yes! Someone has decided to put some hop bitterness into the NEIPA style again. Cool! Let’s take a good look then.

Ok, I started off by saying that it has the hop bitterness, but to be more honest it is more about the hop oils and resinous notes that they use here. It’s not that they are an overwhelming part of the beer, nor are they …*sigh* dank, but they make up the solid core of the hop experience here.

Beyond that it has an odd flavour mix – it opens with the more standard tart pineapple and grapefruit but against that is a kind of sour and savoury note that I always end up describing as gherkin like. I’m sure I have put people off by using that description for a note, but it is actually a quite decent note, its just I have yet to come up with a better description for that odd sour twist.

The malt usage in this is enjoyable, but again it feels odd. It feels like the malt should be mainly out of the way, but every now and then an east coast style malt toffee, or odder still, malt choc orange note pokes through. Odder still it works. Mostly.

Anyway, as you may have guessed by this point it is an odd mix of an IPA. It’s a NE West-East coast IPA. Or something. You know what though – I’m enjoying it. It is rough edged, prickly, even with gunpowder tea harsh edges, but those tart notes over oily character and New England thick texture makes for a weighty IPA bit of fun.

So it is odd, mixed up, rough edged, but I’ll take that over dull any day – especially when it is done this well.

An odd mix worth trying.

Background: The can says that this is the “Gold Edition”. I have no idea why, I did a quick Google and still have no clue. If you know please let me know. Anyway, another of Northern Monk’s Patron Projects – this time with Nomad Clan – a street artist group who were responsible for the very pretty and eye catching can. This is a double dry hopped New England style IPA made with oats to back the London Fog yeast. I’m not a huge fan of the New England take on the IPA, but trust Northern Monks enough to give it a go. Prodigy was still in my mind after Keith Flint’s death, so put on The Day Is My Enemy to listen to – probably my favourite of the more recent Prodigy albums. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Advertisements

O/O: 50/50 Enigma- Nelson Sauvin (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark apricot. Large mounded yellowed head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat. Apricot. Lightly tart. Grapefruit. Melon. Light hop bitterness. Flour.

Body: Lightly creamy meets oily feel. Hop oils. Bitterness. Soft peach. Light custard. Moderate thickness to the mouthfeel. Grapefruit. Light tart grapes. Flour.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Good hop oils. Light resin. Grapefruit. Palma violets. Soft peach. Gherkin. Malt toffee.

Conclusion: This is a much more balanced beer than I expected. With it being 50% Nelson Sauvin hopped I was expecting a level of tart grapefruit hop punch that would rock the house down.

Maybe I was underestimating the Enigma hop.

Anyway, instead, as much as this does use, and indeed rock, those grapefruit Nelson Sauvin notes, this is a much more complex and with it rewarding IPA than if it just threw the tart fruit notes at you alone. It has a cloudy look and a slightly creamy thick feel that calls to New England IPAs, but much to my delight flavour-wise it leans heavily into the hop character giving thick, hop oil led, slightly resinous, and solidly if net excessively used bitterness. My kind of IPA. The base shouts out the IPA character in just a mildly … *sigh * I’ll say it.. dank style.

There is solid sweet fruitiness as well, expressed as peach and apricot, which, when paired with hints of the malt influence showing custard sweetness, manages to balance the flavour out nicely. So, they have managed to balance the hops pretty much 50/50 as they promised, and make them the lead for the beer. The malt flavours are gentle backing vanilla toffee and such, but its main effect is to give enough mouthfeel – and in that it more than does its job.

A beer that gives a very solid showing to both hops, uses malt well, and generally manages to use hop character, resin and hop oils well without them being overwhelming, which makes it all a very solid IPA indeed.

Background: O/O … I have no idea about that name. A quick google shows nothing. So, erm, anyway, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Looked nice – simple but striking colour scheme, I love Nelson Sauvin as a hop and Enigma is pretty solid, Sweden has a darn good craft beer scene, so,yeah, seemed a solid choice to pick. Not much else to add, put on varied Gogol Bordello tracks while drinking for some high energy tracks to add to the mood.

Firestone Walker: Luponic Distortion: Vol 11 (USA: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Light pale yellow. Medium white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Guava. Crisp hops. Light hop oils. Light bitterness. Soft banana chewy sweets. Soft lemon sherbet. Light grapes.

Body: Bready hop character and gritty bitterness. Lemon hard sweet mixed with lemon sherbet. Light cardboard. Dry. Grapefruit.

Finish: Gritty bitterness. Fluffy hop feel. Grapefruit. Dry pineapple. Lemon sherbet. Dried and salted lemon.

Conclusion: This is a pretty dry IPA – well attenuated with a growling, bitter hop character over that. There is a slightly rough feel at times from the combination – slightly gritty – but generally it just provides a drinkable dry feel that works well as a base.

The aroma promises sweet fruit to go along with that – guava and banana sweet notes that, if present, would offset the dry style. Thus it was a bit of a shock when the main body actually gives tart lemon and grapefruit notes, giving a mildly puckering note to go with the dry body. Initially quite sherbety it soon becomes like dry, salted lemon. Again it complements the dry style, but does nothing to offset the rougher notes that came with that.

It feels like it could do with another flavour string added to the bow. The tart lemon and dry body is a nice base for a beer – good hop character, good tartness, but doesn’t go anywhere from there and keeps running into those rough spots.

Good, but not one I would recommend as there are so many other better IPAs out there. A good base that they should return to and experiment with, but not stand out for us drinkers. Yet.

Background: I’m a big fan of Firestone Walker – they’ve been bought up by Duvel Moortgat but the quality doesn’t seem to have changed. So, good for them. What first attracted me to them was their awesome IPAs, so when I saw this experimental series IPA at Independent Spirit I grabbed it to give it a go. From a quick google it uses Australian, German and USA hops, but I couldn’t find which. Ah well.

Buxton: Dugges: Ramberget (England: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large, mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Oats. Wheaty hop character. Clean. Light milk. Light hop bitterness.

Body: Thick. Lemon curd. Passion-fruit. Grapes. Also slightly musky grapes. Fresh lemon juice. Muesli. Vanilla custard. Cream. Dried apricot.

Finish: Palma violets. Greenery. Lemon curd. Hop oils. Some bitterness. Musky grapes. Soft orange.

Conclusion: This is an unusual entry in the IPA category, for all that it may seem a standard entry from the can’s description of it. And by unusual I mean delicious by the way. Also, I still mean unusual. Words can mean multiple things when written down. Like wind for example. Anyway, I digress.

It is thick, kind of creamy but also lemon juice style citrus filled. It is far thicker than your average IPA and that makes every flavour grip so much more and makes it so much more expressive. Lemon notes become thick lemon curd. Milk becomes a chewy oatmeal to muesli milky cereal style.

I will admit it does not have the largest range of flavours – mainly working the citrus fruits – but the thickness gives a depth to each element that makes it extra rewarding in and of itself. It only has a small amount of bitterness, which normally would annoy me in an IPA, but is probably a good call here – the thick texture could have made high bitterness clingy and outstaying of its welcome.

It will never be your go-to, anytime IPA. It doesn’t have that easy drinking, crisp, bitter kick, or a whole other number of other elements you would expect from a standard IPA. However, its thick, slow drinking style is delicious and while an atypical IPA it is still recognisably an IPA. A slower, heavier, bigger IPA for taking your time with.

Buxton bring the IPA goods once again.

Background: I tried this a while back, loved it, so I decided to return one day to do notes. This is that day. So, yeah, I wasn’t unbiased going in – I was very much ready to enjoy this one again. Basically a big IPA made with oats as part of a collaboration between Dugges and Buxton. Simple and to the point. Despite my happy mood going in I put on the melancholy tracks of The Eels – End Times while drinking. Maybe I was afraid of getting too happy. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. yes I have got lax at tried other places. I will keep my eye out more when travelling.

Dogma: Hoptopod IPA (Serbia: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon colour. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Very large lace leaving loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Piney. Hoppy. Resinous. Slightly oily. Floral. Wheat fields. Pineapple. Jiff lemon. Slight lime. Tangerine.

Body: Bubblegum. Tart pineapple. Raspberry to raspberry yogurt. Dry lemon juice. Sour dough. Lemongrass. Orange juice. Slight oily hop character.

Finish: Bubblegum. Crisp hops. Vanilla yogurt. Slight bitterness. Dry lemon and lemongrass. Slow growing and growling hop bitterness.

Conclusion: Are they sure that Sorachi Ace was not used in making this? It isn’t listed in the hop choice but it sure tastes like there is at least a dash of it in there. So, a bit of an unusual IPA then.

The aroma promises something fairly normal – a piney, slightly resinous hop character. Slightly fresh, so a dry hop bomb with some tart fruit as a mild offset. Pretty standard west coast right?

Not exactly, but not exactly wrong either.

The base is fairly dry, with moderate hop character, but it is absolutely bursting with tart juiciness – almost bitty fruit juice style. Orange juice, pineapple, and … this is where it gets odd … bubblegum with light sweet raspberry yogurt notes. Those last two give a slightly artificial, yet still welcome set of chewy sweet or candy set of notes in the middle of the beer. It results it a more chewy character than the dry start would make you think, but not in an overly malt led way – more like a very bitty fruit shake.

It then leads out into a fruit tart finish that slowly subsides into a growling bitterness that finally pays off the hop promise of the aroma.

Overall, I dig it – heavily fruity but with a dry base that shows the IPA style and uses just enough hop character and bitterness that it is still solidly an IPA. Doesn’t ape other IPAs but still recognisable as one. Tart, unusual and drinkable. A solid hit I say.

Background: I was gifted a free month subscription to Beer 52 recently by a mate – Many thanks! – so here it is. They sent a Balkans themed case of beer, of which this was one. Only had a few beers from that area – mainly when I was visiting Belgrade, so was an interesting box to go with. Would I recommend them? Well beer selection seems nice, they include a guide to the beer with some cool articles, so not bad. Warning however – they are an utter fucking dick to cancel. Yes I cancelled after the free box. My cupboard is scary packed at the moment. First world problems. The issue with cancelling the subscription is you sign up online, pause subscription online, but if you try to cancel – after several attempts to make you stay – they inform you that you cannot cancel online via their site. You have to call them, and be put on hold for ages with a painfully scratchy line that genuinely hurt my ears. I was ready to tell them to fuck right off, but I noticed that in smaller text they mention you can cancel by e-mail. Which I did. The person handling that was great, so cool. Did a lot to restore them to my good graces, so may use them in the future for a short while if they have similar interesting region based boxes. Still a crappy set-up though – if you have to make unsubscribing a hassle, then your service isn’t good enough to stand on its own two legs. Rant over. Anyway – tried for vaguely appropriate music by putting on Goran Bregovic – Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals while drinking.


Collective Arts: Ransack The Universe (Canada: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light hazy yellow to apricot body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Solid creamy white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Resin. Hop oils. Soft lime. Floral. Crisp bitterness. Pineapple.

Body: Oily bitterness. Mild gherkin. Pineapple. Prickly. Resin. Grapefruit. Slight vanilla. Dry body. Slight fudge. Mandarin orange. Tart grapes. Lychee. Peach syrup.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Oily charring. Dry charring. Bitter hop character. Gunpowder tea. Grapefruit. Tart orange. Palma violets.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a punchy wee one. It comes across a lot different from the fresh fruity IPA was was expecting from the hop choice in making it. It has a tart fruit character, but emphasises the dry attenuated base and a bitter, charred to gunpowder tea hop kick that is slightly smoothed by hop oiliness.

It feels like a beer that want s to kick you hard, then gently hug you with flavour after. Initial impression are prickly hops, oily, resinous and quickly leads out into a charred bitter finish. The base is dry and out of the way – not getting in the path of the hop punch at all. Here the beer feels kind a fairly brutal IPA, weighty enough backing that the charring isn’t evil and harsh, but still kind of one note.

Time, heat and the slow build of repeated sipping all come together to give access to a second layer of flavour – tart pineapple into brighter tart orange notes with a sour, mild gherkin like twist to it. The hops rock up front, but now with subtle flavours backing it, giving something hiding behind the harshness. Heck, you even get a soft vanilla fudge note that hints at actual malt presence, but without harming the super dry IPA character.

So it is definitely leaning towards the dry, hop assault IPA side of things, which is super my jam. Thankfully. It doesn’t leverage the favour from the hops fully, and can be a tad harsh in the bitterness, but it is a very satisfying, brutal, hop bomb with a lot to back it up flavour-wise.

In a normal environment I’d call this a good beer – in this world where there are so many milkshake/NEIPA/etcs I’m just very happy that I got my hand on an IPA like this again.

A solid beer.

Background: Didn’t run into Collective Arts while I was over in Canada, so when I saw them turn up in the UK with their wonderfully evocative can illustrations I thought I might as well give them a go. I went through all of them looking for an IPA without a New England before it. Yes I’m still not 100% on board with the NEIPA style. Anyway, saw this, grabbed it, drank it. Simple enough story. Put on Throwing Muses’ self titled album while drinking – saw Kristin Hersh was touring again and it brought them back to mind. Nice gentle drinking tunes.

Wiper and True: IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance IPA: Collaboration Series 14 (England: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown, with visible sediment bits floating within. Thin off white head.

Nose: Palma violets. Fresh blackcurrant. Lime cordial. Black-cherry jam. Cake sponge. Light hop character. Strawberry.

Body: Palma violets. Cake sponge. Blueberry. Blackcurrant cordial.

Finish: Lime cordial. Blackcurrant cordial. Cake sponge. Palma violets. Light earthy bitterness. Slight rocky to charring notes. Pepper. Sage and generally herbal.

Conclusion: This doesn’t feel super IPA like, it owes more to the special ingredients and seems to just use the IPA character as a dry drinkable base to work from, albeit with a bit of cake sponge weight from the malt load.

The blackcurrant is tart and gives a lovely, natural tasting, fruitiness but that tartness the fruit brings make the body feel a tad lighter with it. You do get a lot for that trade off though – the flavours are fresh, backed by light herbal notes for some range.

While it is a good set of flavours it does feel like the base beer could pull its weight a bit more as the berry character is very dominant. What I do like in though is a subtle palma violet sweets style character, an element that adds a kind of noble hop like character throughout the whole beer. Now I know violets were used to make this, but I’m fairly sure violets don’t taste like the sweets palma violets. I think. Amy which way I love this slightly odd, sweet note and what it adds to the beer.

I have to admit I would like a slightly brewed up, slightly higher abv version of this. Something to give a bigger body to contend with the thinning the blackcurrant brings – but, I am still enjoying this as it is. Slightly light but still a drinkably dry body, nice fruit tartness and light herbal complexity really works for the beer overall.

So, it could be improved on, made to be a great beer , but as is it is solid, different and still worth drinking.

Also IDLES fucking rock.

Background: So, Wiper and True are rock solid with their beers – love them, The Kernal of the south west in my opinion. Loved them for ages. IDLES, the band, I only found out about within the past few months but now love also – their new album that this beer is named after is a work of anger and emotional vulnerability that spits in the eye of toxic masculinity with a mix of the Clash and post hardcore punk. So yes I was going to buy this when I saw it at Independent Spirit. Anyway this is an IPA made with hibiscus, blackcurrant and violet. Ok, not what I expected – as you can probably see from the bottle they list IBU, hop choice, malt choice, all the info you need to know about the beer, which I always appreciate. So I put some Spice Girls on while drinking this…juuuust kidding, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, natch.

Buxton: Medusa Bay (England: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow-apricot. Huge white head, with a good chunk of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Dried mango. Fluffy, bitter hop character. Dried apricot. Light greenery. Prickly character. Mild hop oils. Sweet peach syrup. Palma violets,

Body: Raspberry and yellow raspberries. Tart pineapple. Prickly hop character. Greenery, pepper and hop oils. Kumquat. Kiwi. Palma violets. Pink grapefruit.

Finish: Hop oils. Greenery. Dried apricot and sweet peach. Sour cream twist. Good bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Yellow raspberry. Tangerine.

Conclusion: An IPA. A genuine IPA. Not a NEIPA, an IPA. Yes I know, I’m a grumpy old man shouting for the NE to get off my lawn. I keep trying not to dump on the New England take on the IPA style, but, after so many NEIPA takes on the style, a rock solid, slightly west coast IPA leaning if not perfectly fitting that style, take on the IPA is exactly what I need. That and long run on sentences it seems.

The base is fairly dry and clean – lightly sweet but mainly out of the way. The hop fruitiness and bitterness does most of the heavy lifting here. It mixes up a few different IPA hop takes in the flavour profile. There’s tart pineapple and pink grapefruit that make up a fresh middle to the beer – feeling a bit NZ hopped style, but there’s notes like a varied raspberry tartness that means it doesn’t fit neatly into that box. There are American style apricot notes, always backed by that slight savoury to vegetable touched bitterness. It feels like a mid 2000’s style IPA remade with access to the modern hop varieties, giving a new spin on an old classic.

The bitterness is present but not harsh – mixing lightly oily but solid bitterness with a peppery present character for weight. It feels like a subtle re-imaging rather than a revolution of an IPA, but it is solid as hell. Big flavour, nice hop choice, and IPA that is exactly what I wanted right now. The classic USA style IPA brought right up to date.

Background: This was a fairly simple choice to grab. I was just looking for a straightforward, no frills IPA and 1) Buxton have been very reliable as a brewer and 2) It is made with a solid dry hop selection of Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot. Not every beer needs to be something out there – I just wanted a solid IPA and hoped this would be it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for a similarly solid music choice with straight up Metallica – Master of Puppets. Was bloody humid and sticky, so I had this chilled down a touch more than I normally would.

Northern Monks: Sharknado 5 – Global Swarming (England: IPA: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened apricot. Large strawberry touched head. Hazy body. Lots of small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Blood orange. Crisp hops. Salt touch. Moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Coriander.

Body: Blood orange. Sour cream. Lime. Thick. Brown bread. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit touch. Strawberry. Milky.

Finish: Sour cream. Blood orange. Salt. Fresh lime. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit.

Conclusion: Ok, a beer based on the delightfully shitty Sharkando movies should not be actually this good. Seriously. It feels a lot thicker than its 5.5% abv should bring giving a real creamy and milky feel, but in a slightly more savoury sour cream style so that the bright blood orange and pink grapefruit notes have something solid to work against.

The tart fruit needs that base, and boy does it use it – the beer feels very thick and heavy, but despite that the tartness manages to make it refreshing. The blood orange is really clear and sharp in its expression and the light sea salt touch accentuates every other flavour that it rubs up against.

The IPA feel is impressive in its precision of expression. There is a crisp hop aroma that prickles on the way in, but then the body leaves that out so it doesn’t break up the tarter character, instead expressing itself in a hop oiliness that adds to the thickness and lets the bitterness wait to seep in slowly during finish when the tart notes have finished doing their thing. It doesn’t feel like a traditional IPA while still being recognisable as being within the style.

Very bright, tart, and yet late on strawberry sweetness and vanilla notes come in to round it out. It is wonderful in how it uses all the extra ingredients to make it a bigger and better beer. Now we just need Northern Monk to make a “The Room” beer, or more likely a beer to promote the Best F(r)iends part 2? Please. It would be awesome.

Background: So, I tried this a while back, saw it, grabbed a can, drank it, but didn’t do notes. Mainly grabbed it for fun, but it was a genuinely good beer so I went back to buy another can to do notes on and … they had sold out. I had underestimated the demand for beer based on shitty movies. Then again, I enjoy the sharknado movies – they are terrible, yes, but enthusiastically terrible, and that counts for a lot for me. They are no “The Room” sure, but it is self aware stupid, and I saw an interview with … the director I think .. where they actually used the word “logic” in relation to the movie. Because of course. Anyway, the beer, I found one final can available at the Beer Emporium and grabbed it, resolving to actually do notes this time. Which I did. This is a beer made with blood orange and sea salt, which both sound tasty and are thematically appropriate. Put on Testament – Low again while drinking. No real reason, just really been digging that album recently.

Northern Monk: Patron’s Project 10.02 DDH Raspberry Ripple Doughnut IPA (England: IPA: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Very bitty filled dark apricot body. Large off white head.

Nose: Raspberry ripple ice cream. Bitty orange juice. Peach. Light hop character. Light tart notes.

Body: Strawberry sherbet. Tart raspberry and hard raspberry sweets. Umami touch. Tangerine. Pink grapefruit. Creamy. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Hop oils. Gooseberry. Tangerine. Tart apples. Pink grapefruit. Raspberry hard sweets. Melon.

Conclusion: Ok, point one – this has the most sediment I have e..e…ever seen in a beer, and trust me, that covers a lot of weird and wonderful experiences. Point two, this both nails its core concept in some areas and utterly ignores it in others,

The first hits are very obvious raspberry ripple ice cream notes, and then there are various different raspberry imagery hits throughout the beer in an artificial, hard sweet kind of way. However once the hops hit they come in a very different way – lots of green and orange fruit notes – from melon, grapes, gooseberry, tangerine and orange juice. Shoot you even get pink grapefruit notes for variety. Very tart very fresh, very natural fruit – it is a heck of a contrast.

Everything initially comes across fresh and sherbety. Then comes the tart notes, then finally the creamy thickness. I’m not sure if I would say that this calls to doughnuts, but that is just because it changes so much and pushes so much out of it. The one constant throughout though is the sweetness, with the fresh character coming close second for time present, but the sweetness is the always present characteristic – be it fruit, sweet hard sweets, vanilla or whatever it is always pushing something sweet at you.

Over time the elements start to merge together – the tart notes become backing to sweet raspberry and vanilla icing, backed by strawberry sherbet. You even see some, but nor much of the IPA backbone – some hop oils that bring light bitterness, but generally it is just a backing.

It is an intense and strange beer – not one to have often as it is bloody sweet – but had now and again as a one off – yeah I love it as that.

Background: Another local collaboration beer by Northern Monks – this one with the Temple Coffee and Doughnuts shop. From a quick google it seems that there was no actual doughnut used in making this, despite the level of bittiness of the beer giving that impression. I have been informed, and checked that if you take the labels off the cans, there is a ton of additional info on the beer and the collaborators on the inside of the label and on the can. Which is cool, but now I’m wondering what I missed out on the other Patron’s Project beers by not looking inside the labels. Ah well. Also with the level of sediment I was quite worried this would make the glass a total shit to clean – thankfully most of the sediment didn’t stick, so it wasn’t that bad. This is another one from Independent Spirit and I put on Nightwish – Dark Passion Play while drinking. My mate says the albums with a different singer are better for enjoying Nightwish, so will have to give them a try some time.

%d bloggers like this: