Tag Archive: Stone Brewing

Haand: Brewdog: Stone: Inferno IPA (Norway: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown to ruddy red body under an inch of caramel brown touched head.

Nose: Kiwi, grapes and hops. Shreddies. Ovaltine malt drinks. Brown bread. Dried apricot.

Body: Thick, prickling hops. Nettles. Good bitterness. Hop oils. Toffee. Thick texture. Low hop burn. Sticky apricots. Cream. Kiwi yogurt. Sticky mouthfeel.

Finish: Caramel. Dry hop bitterness. Low hop burn. Brown bread. Good hop character in general and good level of bitterness. Sticky hop oils and resinous. Palma violets.

Conclusion: This is fairly “dank” in its hop use. Yes I am putting quotes around that, I still find the current meaning of the word “dank” to be odd. Anyway, this is sticky, resinous with lots of hop oils and a pretty solid level of hop bitterness. That really seems to be the core of this beer – Thick, sticky and hoppy.

To back that up the malt load is heavy, thick and sweet – almost fondue impression giving thick feel that gives what would be a big sweet character to back up the hop oils. Not too sweet in reality though despite that, with the hop character coming through it ends up as a big bready to shreddies malt style – very stodgy, thick and quite savoury when everything comes together.

Hop flavour wise is a more subtle deal – there is creamy fruit with some kiwi and some apricot that are present but mainly as backing notes. There is a touch of hop burn with it that adds a mild acrid note, but it is low enough to only add a prickle below this heavy beer rather than damaging it.

It doesn’t have a huge flavour range – the sticky hop side of things really dominates. I would by lying if I said I didn’t enjoy thus, more for the feel than anything else, that sticky hop resinous feel makes a very pleasant sensation as it goes down.

However it could do with more to it than just feel. It has a good mouthfeel, but needs to do more with the hop flavours. Still, a sticky hop experience is an enjoyable one. With work this could be the basis of an awesome beer, it just isn’t there yet.

Background: So, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers, best get that out there first as they are a collaborator for this beer. I am an unbiased actor on Stone beers, unless you considerer thinking them an awesome brewery for the quality of their beers, especially their hop forward beers, is bias. Don’t know much about Haand, but always happy to try more beers from Norway. It just feels more metal. So, with metal on my mind I drank this while listening to … No Doubt again. Listen, I only thought up the metal link later on, ok? Anyway this was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection.


Stone 6th Anniversary Porter 2016 Encore

Stone: 6th Anniversary Porter: 2016 Encore (USA: Imperial Porter: 8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large moderate froth browned head.

Nose: Cinnamon and wood chip dust. Smooth chocolate shavings. Bitter cocoa powder. Smoke and hazelnuts. Choc orange. Smoked beef.

Body: Sherry trifle and bitter cocoa. Smoke and smoked bacon. Brown bread. Hop bitterness. Slight sour cream. Brandy cream. Malt chocolate. Madeira. Roasted character. Light choc orange.

Finish: Smoked bacon. Bitter cocoa dust. Light oak. Smoke. Slight hop bitterness and roasted character – bitterness rises over time. Rum soaked raisins. Blended whisky air.

Conclusion: It really is obvious that Stone Brewing love their hops, so much so that even their porter feels stuffed full of hop bitterness. Thankfully that isn’t all they bring to the game – for one the body is pretty smoothly done, and with that the hop bitterness doesn’t cling – so despite the high bitterness and high abv it doesn’t become painful as thick and sticky hoppy dark beers can do.

The main backbone of the beer is a bitter cocoa to malt chocolate fest – very solid, and again smooth enough to not be bracing instead pushing high quality chocolate flavour. It is subtly rounded by smoked bacon flavour, which, let’s face it – there is very little that doesn’t make better. It gives extra weight without needing a thicker beer, and does that without needing to be dominant. It just lurks in the beer, waiting for the chocolate to fade out, then it rises up to fill the void.

That ideas sums up a lot of this beer – nothing is in a rush; Notes rise up and fade as and when they wish. If you hold the beer long enough then new notes, or old notes resurging are always there waiting to reward you. This feels like the epitome of a slow enjoyment beer. It doesn’t want to rush and neither should you.

For example – as time goes on first sweet sherry trifle and brandy cream like notes come out to sweeten up the beer, then later on blended bourbon notes come out as well. Of the two the sherry is the better addition. It gives and nice fruit and creamy side note that real adds some warmth and depth to the beer.

That final note – the blended whisky is pretty much the only weak point of the beer. Not terrible but it is slightly rougher and not as well integrated as the rest of the notes. Just a bit too raw spirity and rough – though it does only come out when the beer is warm, and is only a minor flaw… Therefore I have no problems recommending this to high heaven. The base is solid, the smoke works without dominating, and the extra barrel ageing makes it special. Definitely grab if you can.

Background: Ok, explanation time, this is not the Stone Porter brewed for their 6th Anniversary – or it is, it is brewed to the same recipe as part of their encore series for their 20th anniversary. Re-brewing old lost classic. This is their smoked porter, brewed to higher abv, more hops and conditioned on French and American oak. They lost a good chunk of it back in 2002 during brewing so it was a very small release. This, in 2016, was a bit easier to get hold of -grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. I am a big fan of Stone Brewing, especially their hoppy beers, which is at least 90% of their beers. They love hops. Drunk while listening to Garbage:Strange Little Birds, which if not as good as their first two albums, has definitely earned its place as a good, offbeat, powerful album.

Stone Enjoy After 07.04.16 Brett IPA 4th Edition

Stone: Enjoy After 07.04.16 Brett IPA: 4th Edition (USA: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Massive carbonation. Massive white bubbled head that mounds up and is long lasting, leaving suds when it finally goes.

Nose: Muesli. Lightly tart. Sour lemon. Peppery. Mild peach.

Body: Bitter. Peppery. Apricot. Muesli. Dried raisins. Moderate thick character. If sipped the head is exceptionally bitter. Tangy, yet cloying.

Finish: Very dry. Dried apricot. Peppery. Muesli. Very bitter hop character. Lemon cakes. Funky. Golden syrup cakes. Earthy hops.

Conclusion: You know, this has a few distinguishing characteristics 1) When looked at, this looks carbonated as hell, yet you don’t feel it on the tongue B) This is dry as heck and ɸ) It is pretty bitter, or, if you actually drink a big gulp of the head, very fucking bitter.

Taste wise it leans towards the earthier, and more rustic end of the saison style, backup up by what feels like a big British bitter earthy hop character by the bucket, attenuated to within an inch of its like, then graced with some fruitier hops to subtly flavour the body.

So, it is very earthy, very peppery, mildly tart and quite funky – you can really feel that fluffy bitter popcorn effect of the brett as it fills your mouth. There is some fruitiness but it doesn’t lean towards any of the expectations you would have of an American style IPA. As mentioned, the bitter hops feel much closer to the British IPA, but the very dry desiccating body does not feel like one that would originate from our shores.

It is always fairly punishing with the bitterness, there is little sweetness to contrast or match it. When the beer was cool I felt that the peppery and earthy character was too prominent and I didn’t really like the beer like that. Warmer you do finally get a touch of sweet balance and freshness mid body – the finish is still a punishing ride, but that soft peach and apricot just gives you some release mid body. The main body becomes creamier as well, still dry, but no longer punishing so.

Had just slightly cool instead of chilled then it is a nice mix of the aforementioned styles – though I will say that while 750ml bottles were a good pick for letting the beer age, for drinking I would recommend sharing the bottle lest that very dry character become annoying by the end. So, a nice beer, but not really worth the amount of time you had to put into ageing it for the result – in the end it is an interesting experiment and an interesting beer, but more so interesting than excellent. Still, it is different to a lot of what is around and I do applaud the ingenuity. In the end feels more like a highly hopped saison than an actual aged IPA, but still distinct enough in what it is.

Background: Drunk 07/07/2016, and not just to prevent transatlantic date confusion. The date on the bottle is American style, so would be 04/07/2016 by UK style. So, yeah, a Brett imbued IPA designed for ageing to at least the date on the bottle before drinking. Which is very unusual for an IPA. I grabbed this back when I was in Canada, and brought it back with me, holding it for over half a year before finally drinking. Then about a month before I drink it, the exact same age stamped one turns up in Independent Spirit. So I could have saved myself a lot of pain. Damnit. Ah well, grab rare beers when you can, you can’t always plan on them arriving again after. Anyway, took care of this temperature wise best I could during the ageing, which, since I don’t have a cellar, is probably less care than it should have. Ah well, ya do your best. Drunk while listening to Clonic Earth by Valerio Tricoli, a weird set of tracks I found out about via Warren Ellis’ twitter.

Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2015

Stone Farking Wheaton: W00tstout 2015 (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Grey dash for a head with brown bubbles at the edges.

Nose: Boozy. Coconut macaroons and pecan pie. Black cherry. Milk chocolate. Vinous red wine. Marshmallow. Bready notes.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Nougat. Vanilla toffee. Cherries. A quite clean high end. Light pepper. coconut. Light pecan. Crumpets. Forthy feel.

Finish: Quality bitter chocolate. Gin or perhaps just juniper. Vodka touch. Rye bread. Light pepper. Vanilla toffee. Pecan pie. Nougat. Crumpets and toasted teacakes. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: Hmm, time to try and work out – is this good, great, or one of the all time greatest? Ok, no bones about it, this is , at the bare minimum, good. The only question is how good?

I wasn’t expecting to open up this enthusiastically, taken from my previous year’s experiences this was solid but didn’t stand out amongst the packed Imperial Stout crowd. It did catch my attention enough to grab this bottle, and I am glad that I did. Now this, part bourbon aged, third edition, this is far above last year’s.

Good opening hints at what is to come with the nose – coconut notes, I always love coconut notes. Entering the main body the bitter chocolate which was stereotypically over emphasised in last years beer is now matched with lots of nougat and a toasted teacake set of notes which gives a sweet, yet frothy and substantial body.

Cool it can feel slightly overly clean- losing the high and low end of the notes, but as it warms more chocolate, toffee, pecan pie and such, come out. Like this it has such a lovely chewy texture, yet not too thick – it is like a mouthful of marshmallows in feel – they resist if you push down, but still crumples easily.

Because of the above elements it manages to have its own identity amongst imperial Stouts. Yes it calls to the bitter chocolate, the bourbon aging ,the coconut touched, and many other mainstays of imperial stouts – and it does take hints from each of these, but it constructs its own interpretation with the texture and with the more unusual added notes.

So, in the end, yes this elevates itself to the quality of high end beers, but also manages to be atypical, and that makes is something special. So it is beyond just good. So, is it great or one of the all time greats?

For now I will say it is part of the all time greats – the texture is very unusual, probably this is a result of the wheat and rye into the mix. The flavour is complex and the bourbon ageing makes it smooth indeed. So, yeah, this is one of the all time great imperial stouts.

Just remember, while I am saying that, this is 13% and a good sized bottle, so I may be a tad merry as I write that, but even with that said …. Damn this is good.

Background: I’d tried last year’s edition of this, mainly because WILL WHEATON! You know, that kid everyone hated in Star Trek the Next Generation, but is now grown up and awesome. Also made with Drew Cutis from Fark.com. Anyway last year I found good, but not exceptional, however this years edition is made with 25% last year’s edition that has been aged in Bourbon barrels, which sounded like it may add just what the beer needed, so I grabbed a bottle. It is also made with wheat, rye, cocoa and pecan. Because of course. I have to admit wheat in an imperial stout did intrigue me. This beer is best know for being one of the answers to “What will always get you laid” in the Cards against humanity episode of Tabletop. Drunk whille listening to some Svalbard, because big music is needed for a big beer.

Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA

Stone: 19th Anniversary: Thunderstruck IPA (USA: IIPA: 8.7 ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow body. Yellowed bubbled head that foams up on a good pour.

Nose: Smooth. Tangerine. Shortbread and cream. Watermelon. Passion fruit. Jolly ranchers. Light fluffy hop character.

Body: Good bitterness. Peach and fruit syrup. Watermelon. Passion fruit. tangerine. Thick fruit pulp feeling base. Toffee back. Overripe banana. Good hop character.

Finish: Good hops and high bitterness. Slightly rough hop feel. Watermelon and tangerine. Passion fruit. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Ok. Everyone stand back. I am about to make an unprecedented statement. Stone brewing are doing a very hoppy beer. Shocked I know. Cats and dogs living together. Total anarchy. And they say sarcasm doesn’t come across well in print. The fools.

Good thing they are awesome at hoppy beers or them doing them over and over would get dull. This time they seem to have gone for a pretty smooth, watermelon, passionfruit and tangerine emphasising beer. Very much showing the Ella influence of the hop choice, and as an Ella fan I am in no way complaining. With the head frothed up it feels creamy and smooth – in fact if this was all there was to it, this would be a dangerously easy to drink beer.

Of course, this is Stone, so it has to have at least one extra characteristic – a solid bitter hop kick. Initially just a bracing level, but rising with each sip. This ends up bringing a long lasting, very bitter finish by the last drop. The malt body behind it shows very little influence – it is slightly dry and mainly there to let the hops show off.

Technically, as a smoother beer it would be better and therefore more impressive. I have had some experience with utterly amazing IPAs made with Ella in, and by reining in the bitterness they seem to really let the hop flavours do better. On the other hand, this is Stone – what did you expect? and since other people have the ultra smooth IPAs covered I am not going to complain that this indulges a little alpha acid push.

Great flavour, great bitterness. Maybe better beers have been made with the hops, but this definitely earns its right to exist.

Background: Well, last years anniversary ale was a hit with me, so let’s give this years a go. This time a double IPA made with a host of Australian hops – Topaz, Galaxy, Vic Secret and Ella. Ella is an awesome hop, so I was very much up for this. So, yeah, Stone beers, highly hopped – I was fairly certain this was going to go good places.

Stone Delicious IPA

Stone: Delicious IPA (USA: IPA: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed clear body with moderate carbonation and a neatly glass filling lemon tinged head.

Nose: Lemon curd on meringue. Cream on peach. Crushed Blackpool rock. Sherbet. Malt biscuits. Kiwi fruit.

Body: Tingling bitterness. Malt digestives. Sherbet lemon and lime sorbet. Creamy. Moderate hop character. Grapes. Grapefruit. Jolly Ranchers. Peach.

Finish: Digestives. Squezed lime. Light hop character. White grapes. Grapefruit. Jolly Ranchers.

Conclusion: I’ll give Stone this – they have an honest naming policy for their beers. Arrogant Bastard was arrogant. Sublimely Self Righteous Ale was sublime, and this – this is delicious.

For a Stone beer it runs on the softer end of the hop bitterness spectrum. Which means for any other brewery it would be hoppy as hell. Anyway, over that… softer.. approach to hops there is a soft creaminess and a delicious (there is that word again) fruity character that builds while the bitterness manages to limit itself to aggressively tingling behind. It results in such a burst of tropical fruit, like an entire packet of Jolly Ranchers blended up and turned into a beer.

The body is wonderfully done, thick enough to bring to mind digestive biscuits layered in cream, all making sure that the smooth fruit flavour and lighter notes never lack for a solid backing to work from.

Despite the… ahem …lighter hop bitterness approach by the end it still leaves a long lasting bitter finish – in fact no element in the finish lets go easily. Despite that, and probably because the hops lean towards the fresher and clearer flavours, the bitterness never gets clingy, and so the beer remains wonderfully drinkable.

So, delicious. Also damn I would love to see a Belgian yeast take on this – i think it would suit the smooth flavours to a tee. If you like IPAs you owe yourself to try this one.

Background: Modesty really isn’t Stone’s thing is it? This IPA made with Lemondroop and El Dorado hops popped up on my radar a few times with Brewdog Bristol and G-LO speaking highly of it. So I grabbed a bottle from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. Drunk while listening to a bit of Dethklok – mainly because they have a song called “I Ejaculate Fire”

Stone Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale

Stone Brewing: Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard (USA: American Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red to black. Toffee touched thin head. Still main body.

Nose: Cherries. Vanilla. Toffee. Bourbon. Fruitcake. Dry liquorice. Muggy hops. Malt chocolate.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla. Bready. Moderate bitterness. Caramel. Fruitcake and raisins. liquorice. Prickling nettles. Menthol.

Finish: Liquorice. High bitterness and some hop character. Brown bread. Some peppermint. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Bourbon alcohol air.

Conclusion: Hmmm. You know, I really do start a lot of conclusions with “Hmmm”. I Should stop doing that. Hmmm. This is a mix of a bunch of things I really like and a few bits of stuff that slightly disappoints.

What works? Well the bourbon is very evident without overwhelming the base beer. The base is smoothed out with lots of sweetness added – a mix of toffee notes and an alcoholic bourbon character laced throughout.

The hop character is the main weak point – age in the oak seems to have made it much more muggy and clinging – based on my little experience with ageing hoppy beers I would guess it could probably do with some more time in the bottle to help smooth and even it out.

With the hops lessened, well slightly – there is still a good bitterness to this, you see more of the malt coming through with raisins and fruitcake emphasised. It is still a backing though behind the bitterness and now the bourbon as well.

It is still a good beer – big brash flavours and the bourbon adds to that – it just needs to commit to one or the other. Either keep the fresh hops or give it more time to let the muggy hops die down – the half way point seems a ill compromise on both. It is, however, a sign of the quality of the base beer that despite that I still quite enjoyed it.

Background: I have yet to review Arrogant Bastard Ale. By which I mean standard Bastard, not any of the variants. This despite the fact I have had the bottle a few times, and on tap last time I was in the USA. Anyway, this version was in Brewdog’s Guest Beer section so I grabbed it. Drunk while listening to more Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Scroobius Pip. I am getting unimaginative in music picks in my old age.

Stone - Ruination IPA 2 0

Stone: Ruination IPA 2.0 (USA: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear thick gold. Some carbonation. An inch of bubbled creamy head that leaves suds.

Nose: Lemon. Crisp clean hops. Sweet meringue. Gooseberry. Creamy. Floral notes.

Body: Creamy. Prickly and full of hop oils. Good bitterness. Apricot and peach syrup. Pineapple. Shortbread. Nettles. Moderately dry.

Finish: Solid hop oils. Apricot and good hop bitterness that rises. Nettles. Light custard sweetness. Resin. Long lasting.

Conclusion: Ok – version 2.0. Unpatched but updated. How does it do? Very interestingly actually. It is a lot drier than the original. There seems to be a trend of dry, attenuated feeling IIPAs at the moment – and this, like those others, catches my attention and my respect. The style makes for a very clean hop delivery system and they end up very easily drinkable for that.

Initially with this you just get that clean hop bitterness, lots of hop oils, resin and growling bitterness along with a prickling that rises. While the aroma hints at tarter notes and lemon, the body comes in initially as a simple hop delivery system. Still not ruining, but much clearer defined that 1.0 and actually gives a very clean bitter kick in the finish.

Now, here comes the contradiction in this beer – it is very dry styled, but despite that there is a very present creaminess that gets layered over that without diminishing it. Odd eh? This creaminess goes on to become full on peach and apricot fruit that grows out of it. It is that sweet aspect hidden at the core around which the dry main character lies. Kind of like a cream centre in bitter chocolate cream egg. If such a thing existed. And was made with hops.

It doesn’t quite beat Restorative Beverage as my favourite dry IIPA, but it brings more clear bitterness, while Restorative is more complex. Compared to 1.0? Well this doesn’t feel as rough edged, but despite that feels like it delivers more weight and actual bitterness.

Overall – I am impressed. Very well crafted, very smooth edged bitter kicking beer. Far too easy to drink for the abv, and far to easy to drink for such a hop assault. Stone know how to use the hops!

Background: Those of you who keep an eye on my twitter feed will notice I’ve been making some “patch” jokes already about this due to its 2.0 moniker. Never let it be said I don’t run a joke into the ground. Anyway, this is a new recipe version of Ruination IPA – I beer had come to enjoy even more over the years since first trying. I had grabbed it from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection when it popped up as I thought it would be interesting to try. Drunk while listening to Jim Sterling’s ..erm.. interview with Digital Homicide. Well, it was a thing, I have to give Jim Sterling credit for his patience.

Old Guardian Extra hoppy

Stone: Old Guardian Extra Hoppy (USA: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Dark mahogany red. Reddened whitish inch of a head. Clear body but with some carbonation.

Nose: Pine wood shavings and wood polish. Gingerbread and cinnamon. Roasted nut shells. Dried apricot.

Body: Bitter. Toasted chestnuts. Big hops. Frothy feel. Dried beef slices. Brown sugar. Dried apricot. Strawberry. Very light toffee behind. Light cherries. Hop oils. Glacier cherries and caramel late on.

Finish: Chestnuts. Lots of hops. Nutmeg. Charred oak. Very nutty. Malt drink touch. Light lime sorbet. Strawberry and cinnamon.

Conclusion: Nutty? When has a barley wine ever been nutty? Ok, that is a rhetorical question, I know you can probably bombard me with examples. I am wondering though – are we still even under the barley wine category by this point, as the abv seems to be the only thing that matches with expectations of the style.

This is nutty, roasted, bitter and charred – it doesn’t quite ruin you, partially because of the ghost of sweetness and smoothness haunting it but for the first half a glass or so it is utterly relentless and dominated by the harsh character. Over time the ghost gets to be a bit more of a geist on the poltergeist fashion – throwing out notes of toffee and cherry with just enough to give escape velocity and break free from the roasted core. Even there they are lighter, easily lost secondary notes. Though the angry spirit fights harder and harder with every sip to push the sweetness out.

Warmth does help, bringing out more sweetness, cherry and cinnamon – the hops get more heavy as well, but it is well worth drinking it this way as you get more of the root barley wine style.

If standard Old Guardian was intense then this is brutal – share a bottle or by the end you will just feel the hops. The main disappointment her is that the hop character is so simple – nutty and brutal but if feels like you are mainly getting the alpha acids rather than complex extra flavour. It is admirable for intensity but really lacks on subtlety.

In fact this taste kind of like what I expected Ruination IPA to taste like – i.e. ruining. It takes until very late on in the beer for the sweetness to do its thing and taste like barley wine. The hops don’t lessen, but for those moments the balance is far better – for most of the time leading up to that moment it is very intense but very single minded.

Background: You know, I tried standard Old Guardian a while back – nice, but I thought it laid the bitterness on a bit heavily which meant that it got a bit clinging by the end. therefore when I heard they did an even more hoppy version of it I grabbed it from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. Because of course. This paragraph may explain a lot about what is wrong with me.

Anyway, this is part of Stone’s “Odd Year Release” selection – beers released every other year. This is the 2015 version. Shared with friends, because I may be stupid, but I can just about learn from past experiences.

Stone Baird Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015

Stone: Baird: Ishii: Japanese Green Tea IPA 2015 (USA: IIPA: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Inch of creamy head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Minty. Pinecones. Pineapple. (Ok, yes, high quality green tea) Wet rope. Ice cream and chives.

Body: Apricot. Moss. Good hop oils and bitterness. Tannins. Green tea. Mandarins. Vanilla fudge. Slight frothy thickness. Palma violets. Acrid bitter core.

Finish: Peppermint. Hops. Hop oils and good bitterness. Green tea. Tannins. Tea bags.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very aware that for, say, seventy percent of the people reading this me just saying “this tastes like quality freshly made green tea” will not actually be that helpful. Even though it totally does. Me saying “This even tastes like that green tea I had in a garden in Tokyo” would be even less helpful, mainly because I didn’t specify which garden. It would also be true though. It was awesome.

So I will try to use other comparisons, so to attempt to be vaguely helpful. Because I am nice.

Ok, initially, as I took my first sniffs of the aroma I was wondering if I was getting slight psychosomatic influence on the whole green tea thing. There was this kind of we rope aroma, a real thick rope, like you use in PE class, along with a greenery with some mint notes over a more standard resinous IIPA base. Nice, but I wasn’t quite sure if I was imagining things.

The body helped set me right. It has that froth green tea feel somehow, along with the greenery and tannins. The hop bitterness backs it nicely so you don’t just have alcoholic green tea. The hop bitterness is met and raised by the more acrid, herbal tea bitterness at the core. While less obvious there are other elements of the IPA base there. The sweetness is drier than usual, more fudge than toffee, and there is hop fruitiness, but very subtly so. Its more a matter of pushing enough contrast to end up emphasising the green tea.

The finish closes off the image perfectly, a kind of mix of peppermint and hop oils along with green tea. Again, I am surprised at how well this works – the green tea is given pretty much free rein, but the hop oils, resins and bitterness mix with it to make this very much a beer and very much an IPA.

This is a unique beer, to my experience, and one of the best tea based beers I have encountered. It really shows all that tea and hop bitterness, and the difference between the two – while using them together to create a distinct IPA experience. Probably the only flaw is it is too heavy duty to have too often, there is very little softening the beer.

So, not an anytime beer, but one you should try – well as long as you like bitterness, and not just hop bitterness – but it is a delight and great beer alchemy. It doesn’t quite get the favourite tag, only as it is a beer for rare occasions, but on those rare occasions – seriously it is one you should experience.

Background: Ok, I’m a fair fan of Japan, and did enjoy the green tea when I was over there – especially when we got to try some of the good stuff. I’m also a huge fan if IPAs, especially the huge American style. So, yeah It was pretty much inevitable I was going to buy this when I had a chance. Picked up from Brewdog’s Guest beer selection, this is the second brew of this beer, with different hops and slightly different recipe to the first batch. Drunk while listening to Rise Against – Endgame, yes, again. I am predictable some times.

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