29 April 2013

My hop nemesis

Though they've been a regular feature on this blog for most of its (exactly) eight years, I had sort of lost track of what BrewDog were doing, beerwise, these days. Outside of the mostly on-trade-related news feed there seemed to be an endless line of hyper-expensive limited editions, none of which really interested me. Now things seemed to have calmed down, with a couple of beers I've been hearing great things about. Time to see for myself.

First up was Dead Pony Club. This is a 3.8% ABV pale ale and so immediately invites comparison with the excellent Jarl by Fyne Ales. Both make extensive use of Citra for a mouthwatering zestiness, but BrewDog couldn't help taking a big scoop from the Simcoe sack, and while this pungent hop just about works in fuller beers like 5am Saint and Punk IPA, it completely takes over here. My experience was of a sharp cheesey foretaste, followed by burning, followed by watery fizz, though I have to give props for the sweet lasting peachiness in the aftertaste.

I'm well aware that I'm in a minority when it comes to my problem with Simcoe. Without its influence I imagine I'd have enjoyed Dead Pony Club more. As it stands, however, it's another reason why I'm rarely minded to run out and try new BrewDogs these days. So it was with trepidation that I popped the next one.

Libertine is nearly double the strength and a very dark but clear red. "Let the sharp bitter finish rip you straight to the tits. Swallow hard - this slut bites" according to the ten-year-old who wrote the label copy, but while the aroma is mostly citrus with a bit of Simcoe funk (it's 100% Simcoe), the flavour puts dark chocolate at the centre, made sticky with a lacing of treacle. And then the Simcoe comes out, held in check by the dark malt which gives us a bit of biscuit to go with the cheese.

Libertine reminds me a lot of 5am Saint, with its mix of heavy malt and funky hop. A pint would probably be too much, but 33cls was enjoyable.

I'd hoped I'd be able to get a bottle of Jack Hammer to go with these but it seems to be in very short supply. I just had a taste of this at the Voyager launch (thanks Alex, and welcome to the blogosphere!) and was very impressed. It's 7.2% ABV and BrewDog claim it's the bitterest beer they've ever brewed. So it must have been the Voyager I was drinking beforehand which left it tasting soft and fruity, packed with mango and passionfruit, reminding me of the exquisitely balanced pale ales put out by Stone. And best of all: no Simcoe, just Centennial and Columbus. Good doggie.


  1. While I like the Dead Pony Club, I find it really lacking in the mouth-feel department. It's like the beer was designed to be drunk quick on a hot day (remember those?)

  2. Dead Pony tasted like watered down Punk. Would be nice as a session beer though. Libertine I really enjoyed: probably my favourite Brewdog beer, they get the balance between the citrus and the chocolate just right IMO.

  3. I'm not generally a fan of simcoe either, but good point about it working in strong beers as I liked it in Sharp's Quadruple.