Showing posts with label Punk IPA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Punk IPA. Show all posts

Friday, November 14, 2008

BrewDog Prototypes

Sometimes when I read about the beers being made in the US and other countries less hide bound to traditions and beer styles I am green with envy. As much as I like Czech beer, innovative brewers are few and far between, Kocour and Primátor being the prime examples, although of course there are smaller regional breweries doing interesting things. Recently, in conjunction with Evan Rail and Pivní Filosof, I reviewed the Punk IPA from BrewDog that I picked up in Oxford. Thus it was last week that a box of BrewDog’s prototype beers for 2009 arrived at Mrs Velkyal’s school, containing Chaos Theory, Bad Pixie and Zeit Geist.

The first I tried was the 7.1% ABV IPA, tentatively called Chaos Theory, which I think is an excellent name and certainly allows plenty of scope for marketing guff on the label. Described as an IPA, I have to admit that I was expecting something along the lines of the Punk IPA. The first thing that struck me though was that this one was much darker, more of a dark amber bordering on red, although again there was a rather minimal head. As would be expected from an IPA, the nose was full of citrus, in fact it was very pungent, with a mix of Seville orange marmalade and bittersweet pink grapefruit. The contrast between bitter and sweet was to be a constant theme in the beer, the first taste being very bitter, and something of a shock if the truth be told, but subsequently it mellows out to reveal its jellied undertones. As you would expect from this style it is very hoppy and the aftertaste reminded me of drinking an excellent single malt with a nice warming afterglow. The final few mouthfuls were syrupy sweet in a way that reinforced the jelly, an excellent beer overall.

Next up was Bad Pixie, which according to the BrewDog website is a wheat beer flavoured with juniper berries and lemon peel. Having become something of a devotee of wheat beer in recent months, I was intrigued by the idea of the juniper berries and could half imagine the Queen Mother giving up her Gordon’s for this. The beer is very pale and had a bubbly white head that very quickly dissolved into nothingness, leaving an almost soapy rim around the glass. The nose confused me for a while, because I couldn’t place the smell, until eventually it hit me that it smelt a bit like a stale pub carpet. In some ways it was similar to the Zoigl smell I wrote about a couple of weeks back, but without sufficient potency to make you thing there was something going on, more that something was off. Taste wise, it was rather spicy – leaving a warm chilli glow on the roof of my mouth which was laced with citrus – given the juniper berry and lemon peel additions that is hardly suprising, the problem was that there was nothing backing up those flavours, rather it was just very dry. It was almost like a lemon meringue pie left on the windowsill for a few weeks.

Last up was Zeit Geist, advertised as a classic Czech style dark lager, and it is certainly dark – dark ruby with a light espresso coloured head, which in common with the other beers disappeared very quickly. As you would expect from a dark lager the nose was dominated by coffee notes, with subtle hints of burnt toffee and even a delicate floral tone suggesting the use of Saaz hops. The burnt theme came through in the tasting, although this time it was less coffee and more chocolate, I would go so far as to say it was like a singed Hershy bar, sweet yet sour. As it is advertised as a Czech style dark lager, I guess it is only natural to compare it to beers such as Herold Dark, and while it doesn’t match that in terms of body and flavour, it would hold its own against the industrial darks such as Staropramen, as such it is an easily drinkable dark.

The point of this exercise is not just to rate three beers, but to say how one would change them with a view to their improvement. I would not make many changes to Chaos Theory, I really enjoyed it, and while at 7.1% ABV it is in no way a session beer, it is an excellent beer for enjoying a few pints with your mates, and I can imagine that it would go very well with a long meal – preferably involving stovies and clootie dumpling – its bitterness more than balancing out the sweetness of the latter. The Bad Pixie, if I may be so bold, I would forget about altogether, it simply does not work for me, I would also though add the caveat that a wheat beer is would be an excellent addition to the range, just not this one. Zeit Geist has potential, but it needs to receive a proverbial kicking from some of the big boys of the dark lager scene to whip it into shape. It isn’t bad, it is just a bit weedy and as such out of keeping with the image cultivated by BrewDog of being Britain’s bad boys of brewing, beef it up, maybe teach it the fine art of smoking and you could have a contender on your hands.

For more opinions on these beers also pop over to Pivni Filosof's blog!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Brewing Up a Storm in The Broch

My mother's family are from The Broch, a town on the tip of Aberdeenshire which most people know as Fraserburgh. Like many families in The Broch they were fishermen who would follow the herring up and down the east coast of Great Britain. Eventually my grandfather, who also played for Fraserburgh F.C., would leave Scotland to become the MD of a canning factory in Lowestoft, before then heading out to Australia and a life in the sun. Still to this day I have countless cousins and various distant relatives still living in The Broch and surrounding area. Fraserburgh was a place that we would visit in the summer to see the family, Scotts and Cassies alike, parking the Cavalier in the caravan park and spending countless hours surrounded by uncles and aunts fussing over me and my wee brother, or in the case of visiting my mother’s uncle Bob and aunt Nessie who ran the British Legion club in Fyvie, repeatedly asking grownups to get the darts out of the ceiling.

Earlier this summer whilst doing a kind of Life of Velkyal in beer, I was looking at what would be the nearest craft brewer to my mother’s home town – half expecting it to be in Aberdeen, or worse Peterhead. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that BrewDog come from The Broch itself, and decided to set about procuring some of their beers to try, thinking my best bet was to get a case or two mailed to my brother in Kent for Christmas.

Whilst in Oxford a few weekends ago I went for a nice long walk, down past Magdalen College and back again – it was early morning as people were heading into the town for work and study as I wandered in the opposite direction. Making my way back in, I spotted an Oddbins and decided to pop in and see what they had. I was pleased to note that they had Bud Strong, the 16° lager from the makers of Budvar, and then in the corner of a fridge I noticed 3 bottles of BrewDog’s Punk IPA. Without hesitation I bought all three, thinking that it would be nice to give a bottle each to Pivní Filosof and Evan, who are also reviewing the beer today, and my bottle was the last beer I had before starting my 14 day break.
As you can see from the picture, the beer pours a golden amber with flashes of orange and a thin white head. The nose is very hoppy, as you would expect from an IPA, with distinct floral notes and a very assertive citrus tone. Citrus is also very much to the fore on the taste front as well, like pink grapefruit, tart, yet with sweet undertones which save the bitterness from being too much. The sweetness reminded me of butterscotch or tablet, one of my favourite confections my mother makes. There is a nice full body, which doesn’t cloy, is smooth going down and the zing in the aftertaste makes it a nicely refreshing beer. I only have one gripe, I wanted more than just 330ml – ok it is 6% ABV, but it certainly doesn’t feel or taste like an overly alcoholic beer, so a full pint would have been ideal, as I say though, just the one gripe.

Before pouring the beer I enjoyed reading the label, which has phrases such as “This is not a lowest common denominator beer” and “we do not merely aspire to the proclaimed heady heights of conformity through neutrality and blandness”. Punk IPA is certainly not bland and boring, indeed it is more than worth seeking out.

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