22 December 2014

Pack hunting

This bottle of Electric India arrived from BrewDog after I visited the brewery last August. Thanks guys! It's a 6.5% ABV saison, hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo. First appearances are innocent enough: a pale and perfectly clear pilsnerish yellow and a modest topping of white foam. The aroma is where the magic starts to happen: that very slightly funky saison fruitiness backed by pineapple and passionfruit. Its texture is quite light, with just a hint of slickness indicating that it's not a quaffer. The flavour really turns up the elements previously introduced in the aroma: intensely pithy mango and a dash of mouthwatering lime, neither of which I'd associate particularly with the listed hops but there you go. Some dry gunpowder spicing stops the sweet fruit from completely dominating the taste. I like this, and prefer it to the rather simpler Magic Stone Dog hoppy saison, but 33cls was enough. All those mangoes get to be a bit much after a while.

India Pale Weizen is a newer offering which I found on sale in Martin's of Fairview. This was brewed in association with Weihenstephan so immediately invites comparison with the Schneider/Brooklyn Hopfen-Weisse, an all-time favourite beer of mine. This is lighter at 6.2% ABV and is truer to the wheat beer style than IPA, though perhaps closer to wit than weizen: the yeast character is dry and spicy rather than fruity. There's even an element of orange peel, which I'm guessing is from the American hops, but there are no IPA bells and whistles here. The aroma is more of those gentle spices and there's none of the rounded warming weissbier character that makes the Schneider hoppy weizen so approachable. While perfectly drinkable, India Pale Weizen doesn't really show off the talents of the two breweries that created it. Less than the sum of its partners, you might say.

For the season that's in it, BrewDog has re-released the Christmas seasonals it had out last year. It was one of last year's batch of Santa Paws that I found in the bargain bucket of Brewery Lane in Temple Bar back in October, just before the best-before was up. This is a 4.5% ABV black beer, pouring headless. They've billed it as a Scotch ale but the clean liquorice and molasses combination in the flavour reminds me far more of Czech tmavý. Apparently there's heather honey in here but I couldn't taste it, nor did I miss it. It's mildly sticky but overall very pleasant, simple drinking.

The companion beer to Santa Paws is Hoppy Christmas and this showed up at a tasting in Probus Wines last month, organised by BrewDog's local importer Four Corners. It's a 7.2% ABV IPA, single-hopped with Simcoe and pale orange in colour. This is definitely one to drink fresh, the aroma a massive wave of funky dank. Rather than big bitterness it's juicy and zesty, bursting with all sorts of citrus. In classic American style there's no heat generated by the alcohol but there's definitely an oilyness from all the lovely hops. Gorgeous now, but it won't be quite such a bargain in ten months' time.

Last beer for this round-up is another that came directly as a freebie from the brewery. My only previous experience of BrewDog's Abstrakt series was no. 3 back in 2011. We're up to AB:16 now, a quadrupel at 10.6% ABV with added coffee beans. I thought there was a touch of Flemish red in the aroma, a gentle woody sourness amongst the dark fruit. It's much more of a quadrupel on tasting, however: damsons and plump juicy raisins, plus a bit of treacle and brown sugar for sweetness. The coffee is a mere ghost of a flavour, flitting past and barely discernible, though adding a sweet cappuccino complexity to the whole. Like the Electric India we kicked off on, this is light and drinkable despite the high strength and full flavour. I'd sort of intended it as a fireside sipper to bring this blog into Christmas proper but I'm not sure it really works for that. While I should never complain about a beer that leaves room for another one after it, there's something not quite right about super-premium session quadrupel.

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