West Berkshire: Renegade: Snake Oil (England: IIPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Thin off white head. Clear and mostly still body.

Nose: Peach. Popcorn hop character. Pumpkin touch. Slightly dry.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight granite grittiness. Slight sour peach to peach stones. Pumpkin. Light vanilla. Dry touch. Light turmeric.

Finish: Slightly rocky. Good bitterness. Pumpkin. Flour. Slight sour tang. Pumpkin. Some earthiness. Gooseberries. Flour.

Conclusion: This seems like it is aiming to match the prototypical take on the American IPA, or double IPA in this case, probably west coast influenced if I remember rightly. Well mostly anyway, but we will get to the differences later – one thing at a time.

It is the dry backed, fairly neutral in flavour malt body that makes me think of the American take on the IPA, along with the emphasis on the brighter fruit – the peach, apricot, and mildly oddly, pumpkin notes – the stuff you would expect from the old school USA hop favourites – albeit in a slightly more sour, fresh off the stone kind of way. Something that gives it a bit more tang than is traditional with its American cousins.

It is a good look – accentuated by tart gooseberry notes at the end. Now, it does deviate from the template a touch, as alluded to earlier. There is a turmeric to earthy bitterness late on and into the finish that is more of a call to the traditional British style IPA. It is a mixed blessing – when done well it adds some weight, but occasionally it gets a bit granite rough which is a tad overly harsh in an overly dry APA kind of way. Similarly it has a flour touch which adds weight, but also can get wearing over time.

So, a generally good IIPA, with big flavour and a lightly soured take on the American IIPA style. It has room for polish and improvement, but is very solidly done. Also, as was pointed out to me, it is comparatively cheaper for an IIPA, especially at UK tax rates for high abv beers, which never hurts. So, pretty good, not perfect, but has a lot of promise if they take their time and give it a polish.

Background: I think my mind linked this with the awesome Snake Fear IPA, so with that it mind it was inevitable that I would get around to grabbing it eventually. Another Independent Spirit bought one in case you were wondering. On googling it looks like Renegade is a craft beer arm of the West Berkshire Brewery. Not all brewers make the jump to craft beer successfully when they are used to the more traditional style – some are downright embarrassing. Hopefully this lot can make that jump. Once again listening to some of Television Villain‘s new album when drinking this – it definitely it a good one in my mind. Though as mentioned I know them, so I am biased.

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