Friday 29th April – an auspicious date for many British residents up and down the land, as we celebrate and berate an age-old tradition harking back to a time when our empire spread across the globe from the Falklands to Falkirk. Yes, your perma-sozzled FT correspondents were undertaking an IPA Tasting.
After the success of last year’s Imperial Stout Orgabooze, we thought that this year we’d try out a different style of beer. India Pale Ale (ha! And you thought we were talking about the International Phonetic Alphabet) traditionally had a bunch of hops shoved in it to help it survive the voyage to India in the 19th century. For the purposes of this tasting a beer counts as an IPA if:
1) It says ‘IPA’ or ‘India Pale Ale’ on the bottle
2) It’s a pale ale with a name that has something to do with India, e.g. Proper Job, which apparently is named after the ‘proper job’ a Cornish regiment did in putting down the Indian Mutiny (despite the the queasiness that such associations may induce).
15.30pm Intrepid tasters arrive. We count around 40 different beers available for our delectation, from a global-trotting three (3) countries. There is some apprehension regarding the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum (which claims to contain an entire hop plant) and the Mikkeller IPA which has an ‘IBU’ (International Bitterness Units) rating of 1000 (the next nearest beer is estimated to be around 100 IBU). As per last year, wall charts are available for tasters to scribble down their thoughts in case your correspondent fails to type everything down. This year’s hashtag is the functional but less-than-creative #IPAtasting.
15.50pm IT BEGINS. We start with ‘a gateway beer’, one that started many of us on our real ale lovin’ journey:
Caledonian Deuchars IPA (4.4%)
Pete says this is “traditional and solid, nothing wrong with it but nothing exciting either.” He gives it 5/10. Sarah has no complaints and goes higher with a 7, as does Kat, who has a fond Proustian recollection of drinking this in the Lord John Russell.
Other comments: “WET.” “Tastes like beer.” “Fizzy.” “Pissy in a good way.” “Solid, good breakfast beer.” “Yes!” “If this was on in a pub on a hot day at lunchtime I would be happy with my purchase.” Overall Score: [6.5/10]
The non-beer drinkers present fail to agree that this is a gateway beer and get some wine out of the fridge. Next up it’s a local favourite and relative newcomer:
Thornbridge Jaipur (5.9%)
Ciori, one of the more adventurous non-beer drinkers, says it’s lovely and gives it 9/10. “I can imagine this with Indian food”. Graham says there’s a “somewhat spicy tang to it” (7/10), Rob says “om nom nom” for 8/10. “Hoppy but smooth, it tastes as strong as it is – this is a good thing”, says Pete (8/10).
Carsmile, who has been known to drink several pints of this down the Jolly Butchers and get quite sozzled, agrees. “It remains the king of beers.” Others get a whiff of the Emperor’s new beer, and think that it’s ‘over-rated’, and ‘a bit Stoke Newington’ (the latter is definitely a fair comment). Sarah announces that Jaipur is the “Tumblr of all the beers”. Rick lives in Stoke Newington but doesn’t have a Tumblr. He thinks it’s fizzier in bottles than from keg but that’s fine: “It’s more straightforwardly bitter and sharp.” Jo is an enthusiastic beer novice – she’s carefully jotting down her thoughts in a notebook: “It’s nice.” Overall Score: [8.5/10]
16.11pm. Some chat about the royal wedding, despite best efforts of all. Kerry and Ciori join forces against wedding h8tas.
16.15pm. Dani arrives! She announces her dislike for Jaipur to much furore. All begin sampling the cheese, which has been recommended by the dude at Neal’s Yard Dairy to go well with IPA.
|St. Gall (Swiss style)||“Rind and cheese v different, but work well together
“This tastes very strange.”
“Lovely – nutty, light texture.”
“Tick vg w/ Lancer also Punk IPA”
“Spicy, strong but smooth, coats tongue well.”
“World of rind, lovely sponge (as in Victoria…)”
|Harbourne Blue (blue goat)||
“Nice and autumnal, honey”
“Nice & creamy, not too strong”
“More blue than goat.”
“I don’t like this!”
“Neither do I”
“I think it’s great, nice and creamy.”
|Mini Milleens (washed rind)||“I like this very much!”
“I’d like to buy the world this cheese AND MAKE THEM EAT IT TOO.”
“Rind – bacaon. Cheese – socks. Turns v sweet with Jaipur.”
|Lincolnshire Poacher (hard cow’s cheese)||“This is a bit boring.”
“Tasty! Comte-like in look and taste but not as nutty. Creamier”
“Lovely with a Raging Bitch.”
“My deaf uncle would approve of this cheese.”
“Sure! Add beer.”
16.20pm. First belch of the day from Kat! Juliet arrives, just in time for:
Greene King IPA (can) (3.6%)
Pete says it is “Tongue-shrivellingly poor”; SteveM agrees giving it 0/10. “Honey flavours, metallic on the nose” says Ewan in a vain attempt to be poncey about the beer. He then claims he doesn’t like honey flavours and gives it 4/10. “It’s like someone ate a lot of asparagus and pissed in a can,” says Graham. He does however try to find a silver lining: “good colour though!” Sarah gets licorice notes – she hates licorice (4/10). Kat thinks it tastes like apple juice, Juliet agrees. Jo rates it in her notebook as ‘alright’, rather than nice. Ewan says the cheese overwhelms the beer (which is a good thing), and downgrades his mark to a 3.
Other comments: “Stale tires”, “just crap bitter”, “pernicious”, “flat and dull”, “not nice… not even close”, “w/ev”, “the David Cameron of the Group”. Overall Score: [2/10]
16.30pm. Time for the first of our beers obtained from the friendly “Druid of Druid St”, Evin O’Riordain. It looks like a porter but tastes like an IPA! It must be:
Kernel IPA Black (6.8%)
Kat tried this a few months ago and was extremely pleased with it. Today it’s still good but tastes different than before – more grapefruity. This is possibly because of having some Greene King IPA beforehand. Juliet thinks ‘citrus’, Jo says ‘pineapple’.
Kerry thinks it is delicious, and wishes she could drink it every morning when she wakes up. “It’s like going camping with my family – in a good way!” However she doesn’t think it’s as good as Jaipur so it only gets a 9.5. Pete thinks it’s oddly fatty, very tasty, but not quite as good as Jaipur. It has a whiff of stuntyness about it. For a black IPA? Surely not! Sarah isn’t sure about this one, but after a while she declares that it goes better with the Lincolnshire Poacher than she initially thought.
“It looks like mud pond water, very sedimenty”, “Marshmallows roasted in hops”, “smooth but oddly fatty, nice”, “this smells like pineapple”, “don’t drink the sediment – you’ll not be able to taste anything else of ages. Otherwise nice.” Overall Score: [7.5/10]
16.42 Kat, Sarah and Juliet are looking at pictures of dogs on the internet.
Fullers Bengal Lancer (5.3%)
Kat is enlightened about her ignorance regarding this beer, which is not in fact named after some sort of military dog used by the Gurkhas. Oh dear. Ewan loses 10 points by uttering the dread word M**THF**L.
“Dry but with a honey front-loading-ness,” says Rob. Jo finds it a bit boring. Kat has another Proustian smell-mory of the church hall where her playgroup was held. Sarah is not a fan of this: “BLEURGH TOO BITTER – The Twitter of all beers.” Dani likes it though – she thinks it’s a nice contrast to the Kernel Black. Passion pops? “There’s no back to it,” says Rick. Carsmile finds the Lancer has a champagney fizz, Juliet thinks it’s “bouncy”.
Other comments from the wall chart: “BUCKFAST, though too fizzy?”, “Tonic wine – herbal”, “very sweet to start with but it goes away”, “tastes like it could be session but isn’t”, “Bucky start/dry bitter finish” “sweet honeyed nose [someone has written 'haha' under this], light with medium finish” “Sarah hates this beer.” Overall Score: [6/10]
Next up, we head to Suffolk:
Adnams American Style IPA (6.8%)
We have three bottles of this, and it turns out there’s quite a variation in taste between them. This is possibly because they have been hanging around Stoke Newington for nearly a year before being opened.
“Fizzy,” surmises Jo. “That’s all I have to say about it.” She’s not wrong though – others comment “this is fizzy and nothing else”, “Bizzy with the fizzy – otherwise dull”, “overwhelmingly fizzy”. Non-fizz related comments include “nice at a BBQ, damning with faint praise?” and “deceptive, sly”. Kat likes it, as does Dani – in fact she likes it a lot and doesn’t always like Adnams stuff. Carsmile isn’t sure how ‘American’ it is, but Pete says he has drunk stuff like it in America. He also says it looks like lucozade. [No marks out of 10 given]
17.17pm It’s time for an American IPA, rather than just an American-style IPA. But which one? Debate ensues as to what the hell 1000 IBU could possibly entail for our taste buds, and we decide to leave the Mikkeller until later. In any case, it’s Danish.
17.20pm IMPROMPTU PIE DEBATE: cold fingers are deemed better for pastry. Steve has cold fingers. Rob has hot fingers. Rob keeps a bowl of ice water handy when he makes pie crust. Kat has clammy hands and avoids making pastry at all if she can possibly help it. Pete says something incomprehensible about physiology.
17.21pm Ewan has confessed to possessing a TICKER APP. It is warning him about drinking too much.
17.23pm Kris Wines is toasted metaphorically, viz Rick waxing about his (Kris’) sideboards. We crack open one of the purchases from said shop, viz:
Stone Cali-Belgique (6.9%)
“It’s sweet except… it’s not,” says Juliet. Sarah thinks it’s better in the nose than the Bengal Lancer. “Welcome back Sonatogen Tonic Wine, my friend!” However the taste is all carbonated. This leads to Sarah’s first burp of the day. “The back end is worse than the front end.” Carsmile is worried that his ‘mouth has gone strange’. He’s not particularly sure he likes it. Rick is confused: “I thought I knew exactly what it would taste like when smelling it, but it doesn’t taste like that at all’. He gives it 5. Dani threatens to give Rick more and he runs away into the kitchen. Dani doesn’t like it – she makes a URGGGH face to show its sourness (2/10). Graham says it is “a 6 series BMW” and gives it 4/10.
Jo mentions that it smells of swimming pools, and Kat immediately starts paying attention and becomes very enthusiastic, then has some of the beer and makes a face like Dani did mere seconds earlier.
Other comments: “Leffe-like”, “toilet cleaner”, “unexpected nose”, “Leffe & Slimline Tonic” “Juniper taste, a bit thin and lacking depth” “Yuck [underlined twice]” “Ewan thinks this is defensible”, “belgian, v citrusy”, “Please don’t make me drink this again. Hate u Belgians” Overall Score: [4/10]
Straight onto another US beer:
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA (7.0%)
Sarah thinks all the beers are starting to smell nasty. She decides to rinse her glass and see if this helps. It does! “This is delicious amber nectar compared to last beer, and it goes well with a chocolate jammy dodger.” It’s got a nice ‘taste’, more like an IPA. She ranks this the same as Deuchars (7). SteveM says this is ‘paint-y’. Watercolours or pastels? We will never know. Pete is very insistent that the following comment be recorded: “the relationship that this beer has to a British IPA is the relationship between Donald Duck and Duck Tales.” Ciori would drink this if it were in Leffe bottles. Jo says it’s not bland enough for her.
From the wall chart: “Citrussy with a hint of paint stripper”, “caramel, burnt banana”, “Super fruity!” “I has a flavour”, “really bitter after a caramel nose”, “puts the big eye in IPA”. Overall Score: [6.5/10]
17.45pm SteveM suggests Real Ale Jukebox akin to The Singles Jukebox, with scores out of ten, random Americans etc.
Carsmile predicts the following beer will be shite:
Wadworth Henry’s Original IPA (3.6%)
Could this be the session IPA? It has a similar taste and colour to Greene King, but nicer (obviously). “It’s that Candied Nose,” says Carsmile repeatedly. Others say “MEH!” “Most meh of the tasting.” “Would work really well as a shandy and there’s a moment for that.” No-one is convinced of the ‘originality’ of this Original IPA. Everyone is shouting ’3.6′ like it means something. “3.6 out of 10 more like,” says SteveM. “It’s like drinking some water after something heavier.” Pete says it’s a watered down version of Bengal lancer. Rick says it’s greasy, Kat thinks it’s swiggable but not very interesting. “It would be good for 2am at a party when you’ve already had 3 random bottles of beer – no surprises and perfectly serviceable as a thirst quencher.”
Magnus says “OK, fine, works”, which is impressive as he hasn’t arrived yet. All marvel at his time-travelling abilities. “Only a bit more honest than GK IPA,” says Pete. No-one knows what the hell he’s going on about. “It’s the Red Stripe of all the IPAs,” says someone. “It’s a bit best-y for an IPA.” SteveM says it is the ‘Carling of IPA’ which everyone goes ‘oooo’ at. SteveM clearly has beef with this beer. Overall Score: [3/10]
17.50pm Kerry, Ciori and Meg have gone outside to do something mysterious involving BRAS. Pete says ‘titknack’ for no good reason. Everyone choruses ‘fucking hell it’s Fred Titknack’, with the correct placement of BRACKETS. Sarah asks if she can borrow the laptop to buy HMHB tickets.
17.55pm Knock knock jokes commence. Sea Weeed, Knock Knock Who’s There? Ans: Pants. (pants pants pants). “Drawers! Justin Bebo belly-bum-drawers.” Moving swiftly on, it’s a Scottish beer that is probably too clever for its own good:
Brewdog Punk IPA (330ml can) (5.6%)
Most of us have had this in bottle form before, but never in a can. Dani promptly decides “it tastes better in a bottle”. “It smells funny,” says Jo. She gives it a 6. Rick thinks it’s a bit objectionable (4/10). It reminds Sarah of one of those lemon things you put in your fridge to stop it smelling. “There’s a definite soapy backwash.” It’s ‘too lemony’ for Juliet; Carsmile agrees: “lemon washing up liquid”.
The wall chart says: “Our new canned overlord”, “Germ free adolescents [anarchy symbol]“, “Maybe better than Henry’s :O”, “smells like hayfever”, “with another 10% of lemonade it would be a shandy”. Overall Score: [6/10]
17.59pm SteveM hasn’t had any hayfever this year, because he hasn’t been outside for a long time.
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA (9.1%)
This is a toasted, sweet beer that’s “easy to drink, therefore dangerous”. Ewan thinks it’s comparatively subtle, and that it would go well with cheese if he could be bothered to get up and have some (9/10). Kat thinks it smells like sweet and sour sauce (but tastes like malted milk biscuits). Dani thinks it’s too strong, Rick says it’s more of a barley wine (or “barley whine” as someone has written on the wall chart*), whereas SteveM thinks it’s “getting a bit syrupy”. Graham thinks the beer has a good balance of flavour and masks its strength dangerously for 9.1%. “You can’t drink this quickly,” says Pete. “Well, you can, but you shouldn’t.”
At first Sarah can’t taste any difference between this and the previous beer, then realises she is in fact still drinking the previous beer. Once this is rectified, she says the Hercules Double smells like a friendly festival – not Latitude or Glade, but “a nice day at Glastonbury”. All agree that it tastes of Strawberry Crusha, though ‘this might be pissedness talking’. Overall Score: [8/10]
18.13pm Pete declares that “Teresa May has wooden teeth – Ms Dynamite told me so”. Sarah says that apparently Melvyn Hayes once got stuck in a ticket barrier at Euston station.
18.19pm Rick is talking some sort of beery bollocks. This must mean it is time for some Royal Wedding beery bollocks! Dedicated republican Juliet leaps up from her seat for some of this:
Ascot Royal IPA (4.6%)
“It’s quite nice actually!” says Juliet in surprise. Others are less keen: “not terribly exciting”, “Boring & forgettable – like Katie Middleton”, “Boring & forgettable – like Prince William”. Carsmile says it’s nothing like the cask version, and Pete says it’s not really an IPA at all. Someone says it smells like plants, “but not herbal and tonic-y”. Dani lets out a marvellous burp. [No scores out of ten are given, possibly because Kat is too busy drinking the rest of the Hercules Double to ask people for them.]
(approx) 18.30pm Moggy and Magnus arrive. Proceedings become a little more ‘free-form’ at this point, with several beers being opened at once (as there isn’t always enough of each one to go round).
White Shield IPA (5.6%)
SteveM finds its blandness strangely appealing, while Kat agrees it’s not very interesting, she finds it quite comforting. Graham doesn’t look too impressed, and Ewan gets a nasty aftertaste. Pete is getting an acetone-y degree of nail varnish remover. Ciori thinks that everyone is too drunk to appreciate this one properly. Carsmile appears to be drinking a completely different beer from everyone else. He says it’s completely different from the cask version (which had a lambic edge) but “this is lovely – prickly, spicy and fun.” He gives it 10/10, possibly in jest. “Zingy, pingy and full of ketone life.”
A rather curious comment on the wall chart says: “Jiggly Jiggly Puff (= properstuff A+ 8/10)”. Overall Score: [7/10]
18.51pm Samosas and bhagees have been brought out at some point, to fit with the Indian theme,;also coronation chicken sandwiches (with mango chutney). The food vanishes almost instantly. We move on to a beer from Greenwich that seems to be everywhere these days:
Meantime IPA (7.5%)
“This is, indeed, a beer,” writes a sharp observer. Pete thinks it’s “interesting but has no proper character”. It’s not demanding that he attends to it, given its strength. Rick finds it “astringent, but otherwise nothing there”. Ewan is similarly underwhelmed: “Perhaps following the others hasn’t helped it?” It does however improve after eating spicy food – it takes the top edge off. Other comments: “Smoked cheese”, “A conventional summer companion.” [No marks out of 10 given]
18.54pm Magnus proposes the theory that we are all inside Kate Middleton’s dream in 2003, watching Wills play hockey. It’s all gone a bit St Elsewhere. Rick makes a dreadful noise when trying to get up off a chair. Time to crack open a huge imposing bottle:
Moor’s JJJ IPA (9.5%)
This is the strongest beer we’ve had so far. Pete makes laboured joke about an Australian radio station that no-one gets. “The initial taste is very strong, but then it goes,” says Ewan. “It’s insane, but a good insane – I can’t drink too much of it.” Kerry really likes it: “Recursive beer! It tastes like other beer only more so – beer squared.” What sort of beer? “Beer! It tastes like American beer, only more so. I could happily drink this all night then fall asleep 45 mins later.”
Pete gets a hint of gueuze. “This doesnt help with spicy food at all, but it’s lovely, really nice. Very different to the double IPA – smoother and strong.” He gives it 9/10. SteveM likes it too. “It’s better than the other strong one – crisper.” Juliet thinks it has a good front taste, but the aftertaste gets bitterer and bitterer. She would like it if she didn’t have to swallow it (hur hur hur). Kat doesn’t like it at all – it makes her mouth go HYLUP. “Behold the firestorm,” says Magnus cryptically. Carsmile is impressed that it is 9.5% without being too barley-y. “It’s hoppy without being stupid, and quite licorice-y at the end.”
Other comments: “Peachy!” “A wonder – strong but Pazow!” “Bit too much really innit – needs sipping like whiskey.” “Yes, it’s, mmm, yes. Yes. Strong.” [No marks out of 10 given]
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (7.2%)
“Oh, it’s only 7.2!” cries Magnus. “An awesome session waiting to happen.” Kerry starts cradling the glass like it was her firstborn. “It’s like the platonic ideal of what an IPA should be.” Kerry is very insistent that the following be recorded: “It’s very difficult to find an IPA that isn’t top heavy or bottom heavy but MEDIUM heavy, which is what an IPA should be. The earlier ones were all ‘top of the palate’.”
Kat likes it, but it is making her tongue cramp up. Pete lowers the tone as usual: “there’s no p43do like a Torpedo.” Other comments: “Delicious! The bottles are not large enough – full and deep taste that inspires IMMENSE THIRST. Would get hammered on this.” “Every IPA should aspire to this.” “All beers are like this but less so.” [The only recorded score out of 10 is an 11 from Kerry, but everyone seems positive about it]
Next, we try an American beer with a cartoon monkey on the label:
Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey (7%)
Much mockery occurs due to this beer’s claims to be an ‘English style 7% ale’. It does not taste like any English IPA we can think of. Moggy has just had some jalapeno crisps though, so she cannot confirm this. She does however say: “this is something I buy in a cornershop because I am already pissed and it has monkey in the name, to utter ruin.” Despite being a ‘big fat lie of a beer’, Pete likes it. Ewan agrees that the grapefruit bitterness is definitely American, however “it’s not bad – for an American IPA it’s quite good.” [No marks out of 10 given]
19.25pm Rick denies paralyticness. “He hasn’t even really entered Yorkshire yet”, says Moggy.
19.28pm Magnus and Moggy comment on your correspondent’s typing style. “It’s like you’re playing the piano.” More American beer next, this time with a (rather gruesome) cartoon dog on the label:
Flying Dog Belgian Style Raging Bitch IPA (8.3%)
Ewan confirms that it is indeed very Belgian. “It tastes like Leffe.” Mog thinks it’s good: “This is delicious, I wish to drink it in expensive half pints.” Pete says there’s a ‘manageable nose’ and a peppery taste. “A little bit too bitter on the end but nice, peppery and rounded. Could do with being a bit colder.” He gives it 8/10. Graham thinks it’s “quite tasty”, with loads of flavour. Kat and Sarah are drinking cups of tea, but Sarah takes time out to contribute “o rly” and “bukkit” to the forum. Overall Score: [7.5/10]
19.33pm Hoo and Haa occurs, because Carsmile tells Pete to ‘calm down dear’ and Pete calls Carsmile ‘David Cameron’. In other news the masala mung daal snacks have not gone down well, because they smell of sulphurous caves. Sarah gives 9/10 for her cup of tea – it would be ten but there was only semi-skimmed milk.
19.39pm Carsmile, Pete and Ewan are talking about beer and its relative strengths – US beers seem designed to be served chilled. Unfortunately none of the beers we are sampling have been chilled. Let’s try another room-temperature US beer and see how it fares:
Odell IPA (7%)
Kat likes this a lot! It’s very hoppy and goes well with Lady Grey tea. It’s softer and more mellow than most super-hoppy beers. She gives it 9/10. Pete likes it too: “it doesnt touch the sides – nice.” Graham says “very different from the Raging Bitch, softer and more summery.” Rick thinks it’s lovely – good, chuggable and strong. “I can imagine myself sitting in a bar in Portland drinking this in pints and having to be wheeled home. Just a really nice beer.” Rick also makes a very good point that it’s not excessively grapefruity, unlike some of the other hoppy American IPAs.
Wall chart comment: “Probs needs not to be drunk from a mug.” Overall Score: [9/10]
19.47pm Magnus eats some crisps. All berate Kat for not paying attention to beer discussion and looking at shit on twitter instead.
St Austell Proper Black & Proper Job (6% & 5.5%)
First up, the Black: “Tastes like a gorgeous Black Russian OM NOM!” “Doesn’t taste anything like normal ‘Proper’ Proper Job”. “Nicest yet.” Pete says it’s “like licking a slice of burnt toast. The hops are overroasted, which is good but it tastes of carbon.” Some discussion of chewing pencils/licking coal/snorting coal dust. All these seem like ‘ludacris suggestions’. Kat hates it because it’s smokey but not bacony, and this feels like a missed opportunity: “Waaaaah.” Magnus says “smoke on the water”.
Now for the Job: “all a bit forward, tastes a bit sweet.” Moggy sums it up as “Like an IPA top – alright but too sweet for the name.” Others agree that it’s too sweet, despite its murky naming origins: “sweetly downable but politically unacceptable. A dilemma.” Carsmile defends it – “if you go to Cornwall (or Glastonbury) and get it straight out of the keg then it’s bluddy lovely.” After some thought, Rick gives his opinion: “W/evs, basically”.
19.54pm It appears we are ‘living in an age of beer revolution’ regarding black IPA (cf the Kernel etc). The back of the Proper Black label states some nonsense or other on this subject. Consumption of the Proper Black has evoked hip thrusting dancing (quite disturbing) and ‘ooooOOOOO’ noises (no less disturbing).
20.00pm Dani swigs a mystery drink: “subtle caramel tones, quite fizzy, a bit of a head, very sweet. Caffeiney, cough mixtureish, yet a refreshing mouthfeel.” It is COCA COLA do you see. Over half the attendees have gone outside ftb drunk. Eventually everyone comes back inside for more beer, Ewan wants something insane. Rick suggests the Yellow Snow. Ewan wants to do the 1000 IBU Mikkeller ‘before we’re dead’. Mogs unwraps the delicate covering of the Mikkeler, we all go blind, triffids take over the planet etc.
20.13pm Ewan shouts out ‘Cumberbatch Penis!’ I take a photo of him opening…
Mikkeler Barrel Aged 1000 IBU (9.6%)
Everyone laughs as they taste this beer. “It’s LOVELY,” says Kat, who gives it 9/10. “Smokey good, with more bacony Liquid Smoke going on.” Pete also gives it 9 – he would like to drink this with a wedge of lemon in it. “Lovely sweetness at the front.” Graham says it’s like “fine port that you might sip”. Rick says there’s no way this is ten times more bitter than other beers (for a comparison, the Odell IPA is 60IBU). He agrees that it is however “incredibly smokey”. Ciori says it’s like Earl Grey, with some burnt malt (rather than normal malt). Ewan says it’s “really good for that kind of beer”. Carsmile laments that the only problem with this 1000 IBU bitter is that it’s not bitter enough! Magnus is “stricken”.
Other comments: “A beer you have to exhale.” “Bukkit” “The 1974 Netherlands of World Cup Ale” “Alcoholic Liquid Smoke” “Mmmmm…Bacon!!” “Not so much smoked as burnt; nice though…” “…but couldn’t drink a whole half.” Overall Score: [8/10]
Rogue Brutal IPA (6.2%)
“Not metal”, says Moggy, although she “can see Iron Maiden fans drinking that”. She is referring to her mum. Other comments: “Rogue are a bunch of pussies.” “trooper”, “fruity”, “I just drank Mikkeller 1000 IBU. Sorry, Rogue, this is not brutal”, “tumbleweed”.
20.20pm Several beers are currently doing the rounds, and it becomes difficult for your correspondent to keep track of what everyone’s saying AND type it all out at the same time. Therefore the following comments may be slightly inaccurate:
Kernel IPA Citra (6.2%)
Moggy says this is “delicious like a mango beer”. Someone else (presumably Pete) says “like a lovely mango beer but I can get that in the Swimmer”. Kat has figured out how to do a ‘ß’ on the laptop keyboard: “Grußdiche!” Magnus waxes lyrical: “how this dances over the tastebuds! The blend ooff Ooff smooth filter blend lemon tang”. Wall chart comments: “I am bored of Citra as a hop already”, “co-sign”, “pot pourri much?”
Pitfield 1837 IPA (7.0%)
This beer has been in the cupboard for a while. Moggy says it’s “too fucking Stoke Newington.” Kat says it’s “a bit bland after everything we’ve had.” Rick is disappointed with how fizzy this has become – all the floral notes have gone. “Too bitter, too fizzy, too farmer’s market (even for me!)”
20.24pm Carsmile announces that, after a 5 minute conversation, it has been decided that “bitterness is subjective, however, fuck it let’s drink something nice”. Your correspondent DISAGREES. However your correspondent has also kinda lost track of what the hell is happening.
20.28pm Someone has uttered the words ‘Tadcaster’. A Sam Smiths adventure surely can’t be far away. Graham shows Kat a whole Facebook group dedicated to Princess Beatrice’s Valentino haut-couture hat, which Kat thinks should have had a picture of her dead aunt Pritt Stick-ed in. Sarah writes ‘jiggly jiggly jiggly’ on the wall chart. The culprit is revealed!
Double American IPA (9.2%)
This is actually a Brewdog beer made for the Tesco Finest range. No, we don’t know either. Rob says it “tastes exactly like an American IPA”. Rick says it’s ok, but it’s too much of a barley wine than an an IPA. Rick and Moggy decide it is “the Barley wine Kanye West”. Magnus says “Think not of what you can do for ale. Think only of what this ale can do for you. Which is leave a bitey but quite pleasant after taste.”
20.40pm SteveM says “we are in the post-meme malaise”.
Brewdog IPA Is Dead (7.5%)
More Brewdog – this time we have 4 bottles of 7.5% IPA, all with different single hops as bases:
#1: Sorachi Ace Last weekend (at Mason & Taylor’s Single Hop Beer Festival) Rick had another beer made from this hop – then, on the first sip he thought ‘this isn’t even beer’, but by the time he’d finished it ‘it was a new future for beer’. Now he thinks “this is fucking horrible”. Ewan says it’s too buttery: “least favourite hop, it can hop off”. Pete adds “some hops shouldn’t be allowed on their own”. Someone says “The Jimmy Saville of real ales – likeable but a bit odd”. Dani replies saying it’s “the Retsina of real ales – unlikeable, just as Retisna is the most unlikeable of wine”. Wall chart comments: “Not a real hop”, “bonkers mod”, “It’s beer Jim but not as we know it (damn it Jim, I’m a doctor, not a brewer).”
#2: Citra “Nice, fresh and lively but tastes just like the Kernel Citra,” says Ewan. Moggy thinks it’s perfectly nice but it didn’t compare to the Kernel Citra in terms of fruitiness, and would never drink it in more than a half measure. “It’s almost like mimosa/prosecco cocktail, ideal for a breakfast drink.” Magnus approves (“Ooh! Nice”); SteveM likes it very much “a definitive citra for our age”. He makes a flamboyant hand gesture and gives it 8/10.
#3: Bramling “Ham in a glass,” says Moggy. “Quite nice and significantly better than the Sarachi Ace”, say Carsmile. Ewan says it’s ok. Wall chart comment: “It’s super and tastes like smoked ham or gammon or bacon or (snip)”
#4: Nelson Sauvin Moggy says its nice and plummy. “And French!” “Intense and grapefruity.” An 8/10 from Ewan, not just because it’s from New Zealand (and Scotland). Or France. “Sour shower flower power,” says Magnus.
21.11pm Your correspondent has brief interlude upstairs as she feels a bit ‘giddy’. Much better after 10 min lie down! Meanwhile:
Sam Smiths India Ale (5.0%)
Carsmile: “Pretty much like Greene King.” Other dudes: “All dayer – good with a spicy pizza”, “Super duper bland.”
21.21pm A strange smell of drains appears. It is deemed an appropriate time for another Rogue beer, this time one with a dog on the label:
Rogue Yellow Snow IPA (6.2%)
Rick finds this quite boring. Kerry feels patriotic as this beer is brewed within 20 miles of her hometown: “It would be delicious if it were refrigerated, but since careless people failed to do this it has ended up as a middle of the road boring type thing. If it were refrigerated people would truly appreciate it for the Mental Juice it is.” She strikes a dramatic pose. “Don’t eat the yellow snow,” warns Magnus. “Do drink this though.” Other comments: “Why do this brewery only make fruity beer and then give it a Soviet label?”
Next we have the beer with an entire hop plant in. It also contains All The Booze.
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum (10.4%)
The Tenants Super of IPA! Moggy says it reminds her of a documentary about substance abuse in Bristol. “I drunk 2 cans of Super Skol so had to get a bag of heroin.” “The means to a very messy end,” says Graham, who gives it 1/10. “It’s just not right. I would rather drink vodka and tonic instead.” Kerry rates this as one of her top 3 maddest IPAs ever (in a good way). The other two are unsurprisingly from Oregon: Ninkasi Total Domination and Bridgeport Hop Czar.
Other comments: “MEH! Really MEH!” “Oh this is just silly now isn’t it?” “The hops have been differentiated to find the point of inflection.”
21.38pm Minor disagreement betwixt Graham and Kerry re: the relative merits of vodka versus IPA. It’s all very good natured, though slightly less coherent than it could be. Eugene is apparently ‘a place’. Rick has put on ‘Spectre vs Rector’ by MES & His The Falls. Unclean!
WJ King’s IPA (4.8%)
“Very interesting and surprisingly tasty for a 5% UK Sussex beer,” says Carsmile. Sarah says she could continue drinking this for several pints: “Lovely and smooth, but not buttery or margariney or indeed olive oily. Smooth but good!” Rob agrees on the smoothness front. “Not what I was expecting from an IPA”.
Saranac Imperial IPA (8.5%)
SteveM thinks this is nice as well. The wallchart agrees: “Oh hello, I am an American IPA. I am okay.” “A bit like Brains 45. I miss Brains 45 :(”
Durham Magic IPA (7.0%)
Carsmile perks up. “It be why aye like! Quite grapefruity, very citrusy.” Rick says it’s nice, but it tastes like IPA (???). “Never believe it’s not so,” says Magnus.
Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%)
This has three different kinds of hop in it – Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook. Pete says it “doesn’t smell of dope – it smells of changing at Crewe.” Alexandra or the railway station? This is unspecified. “Nice though!”
22.06pm Ewan and Kerry depart. SteveM says he has enjoyed the blue cheese. Some debate as to who has been using the orange pen – turns out to be Moggy. SteveM is more pissed than this time last week and says he is going to go home and tweet, though he doesn’t actually do this.”This is proof that IPA is better than cider.” Your correspondent would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we at Freaky Trigger promote responsible drinking.
Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA (7%)
This beer is from a place called BOONVILLE, like that dude what died out of Lost. SteveM says this is “crisp, comfortable in its own skin.” Moggy thinks it’s really nice. “Standard IPA, with the good aspects of an US one, but doesn’t need to be cold to drink and isn’t overflavoured.” Magnus says that “this is full on fineness. Family name honoured.”
22.19pm SteveM is ‘bollocksed’. Rick is spouting nonsense to Mog at the sink. People are talking about CATHOLICISM and its many flaws but we still love it anyway for some reason.
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale (6.9%)
22.25pm Rick appears to have put two records on simultaneously. We open some non-IPA beers including the Kernel Export India Porter (“this man has dominion over the sun and the sky. And the hops”) and the Leek Dark Peak Extra Strong black stout (“extra-minging more like”).
22.40pm Someone has put THE MANICS on the stereo. Kat denies all knowledge of how that copy of The Holy Bible got on the CD shelf.
22.54pm Kate Bush is now on the stereo, much better. SteveM is doing an impression of her funny voice by saying ‘ThE WEEddiNg lEEst’. People are still drinking things aren’t IPA despite the fact that we have several unopened IPAs on the table: the Wobbly Badger smells of Mini Eggs. “When my life has reached its platonic state I shall ask for this to be poured on my pancakes”.
We arrive at the end of the evening with an important question that has plagued the thoughts of mankind for centuries: how much vitamin C is there in an orange Revel?
Our final top 10:
1. Odell IPA (US)
2. Mikkeller (DEN)
3. St Austell Proper Black (UK)
4. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (US)
5. Thornbridge Jaipur (UK)
6. Great Divide Hercules Double IPA (US)
7. Moor’s JJJ IPA (UK)
8. Flying Dog Belgian Style Raging Bitch IPA (US)
9. Kernel IPA Black (UK)
10. WJ King’s IPA (UK)
Least favourite beer: Greene King IPA, with Brewdog’s Sorachi Ace close behind.
Deferred beers: Marstons Old Empire (5.7%), St Peters IPA (5.5%), Hardknott Infra Red (6.5%), Marble Lagonda IPA (5.0%), Southwold ‘M&S’ Winter IPA (6.7%), Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (6%), Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (9%), Smuttynose (6.6%). We are all very disappointed that we forgot to try the Smuttynose.
Full list of beers, A-Z:
Adnams American Style IPA
Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA
Ascot Royal IPA
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA
Brewdog IPA Is Dead (Citra, Bramling, Nelson Sauvin, Sorachi Ace)
Brewdog Punk IPA
Brewdog/Tesco Double American IPA
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
Caledonian Deuchars IPA
Flying Dog Belgian Style Raging Bitch IPA
Fullers Bengal Lancer
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
Greene King IPA
Kernel IPA Black
Kernel IPA C.S.C.
Kernel IPA Citra
Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey
Mikkeler Barrel Aged 1000 IBU
Moor’s JJJ IPA
Pitfield 1837 IPA
Rogue Brutal IPA
Rogue Yellow Snow IPA
Sam Smiths India Ale
Saranac Imperial IPA
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
St Austell Proper Black
St Austell Proper Job
Wadworth Henry’s Original IPA
White Shield IPA
WJ King’s IPA
*Someone has written underneath “#kitteninnaflatcap”, included a small drawing of said flat cap, then added “not v flat :(“.