07 March 2013

Crosstown traffic

A couple of new American double IPAs took me on a bit of a tour of the Cottage Group's Dublin pubs recently.

Starting at Against the Grain on the southside there was Anderson Valley Imperial IPA, an 8.7% ABV affair which claims 100 IBUs. The aroma is its strongest feature, full of gorgeous sandalwood and booze notes, almost reminiscent of a fine cognac. Tasting opens up a candystore of sherbet and toffee, as well as some very adult supervision from the alcohol burn. The hops don't really sing, however. There's kind of a heavy and muffled orange cordial flavour, but neither zip, zing nor zest. Still thoroughly enjoyable all the same.

We cross the Liffey and head for the far end of Capel Street next, to The Black Sheep. This is the Group's cask specialist but that didn't stop them having Flying Dog's Single Hop Citra Imperial IPA on keg. This is all of 10% ABV but more than makes up for the extra malt with a very generous dose of hops. It presents a hazy pale orange shade and is surprisingly light on aroma, giving just a tease of orange sherbet. There's no shortage of flavour, however. It's nowhere near as sharp as I was expecting, with the Citra citrus mellowed by the heavy biscuit base and alcoholic warmth. Fresh grapefruit notes give way to a final pepperiness while the weight allows it to coat the palate leaving a long-lasting aftertaste. Despite the gung-ho branding and vital statistics this is an artfully assembled beer.

I thought I was done when word came through that its brother Single Hop Nelson Sauvin Imperial IPA had been tapped up over at The Brew Dock, so I headed off across town in a different direction. Odd that this beer looks darker, since the specs are the same, but when it comes to the aroma there's no mistaking the Nelson: mee-ow! But beneath the serious bang of cat pee there's a nicely assertive bitterness to make the mouth water, overlaid with with some lovely succulent nectarine notes, a flavour I've never never noticed from Nelson Sauvin before. Unfortunately, the pissyness is just inescapable and undid a lot of the beer's good points for me.

One thing that struck me about all three keg beers is that they were served California-cold, and yet didn't suffer a lack of flavour because of it. Low temperature and high hops seem to have worked together to allow these strong IPAs stay properly refreshing.

What's that? The Single Hop Chinook has been tapped back at The Black Sheep? Some other time, maybe...


  1. Professor Pie-Tin9:02 pm

    Meanwhile in Cork ...


    Beez nazis indeed !

    1. Good man Benny: look after the early adopters who'll see you through the first difficult months.