18 December 2017

All the double ladies

IPA may be dead, but Ingrid lives on. BrewDog has released a new set of hacked double IPAs, following on from 2010's cloudberry-laced Hello My Name is Ingrid and the many sequels it has spawned over the intervening years. This time there are nine of them in total, each representing a different nation, symbolised by the added ingredient. All are 8.2% ABV and the pale gold colour varies only slightly between them. The set arrived courtesy of the brewery and as far as I'm aware you can't normally buy them outside their thematic countries. That means in Ireland you're stuck with...

Hello My Name Is Niamh, the only one without a fruit addition, using elderflower instead. There's very little aroma, reminding me of weak lager more than anything. The texture is light and the flavour clean. I get the sweet elderflower in the foretaste and then a hard bitterness behind. Definitely a beer of two halves. Where the two sides meet I got an intense peppermint effect, like a mint humbug. This came with a hope that they're not all this weird.

To follow, the Norwegian entry Hello My Name Is Aune, which uses strawberry. The first point of difference is the colour: this definitely has a bit of a blush going. The bitterness is lower than in Niamh, and the texture softer. The strawberry taste is extremely subtle, to the point where I'm not sure if I'd recognise it as strawberry. There's a pink chewing gum vibe from it, flashing briefly in the foretaste before getting smothered by the harsh hop finish. This is the point where I starting thinking saison or Berliner weisse would have made a better jumping off point than double frickin' IPA.

Germany next and I had been particularly looking forward to Hello My Name Is Helga as I generally enjoy cherry in beer and cherry double IPA sounds intriguing. This is the first one with a proper aroma, a heady smack of cherry essence, like cough medicine or lip balm. The cherry roars from the middle of the flavour sending the hops scampering for cover. There's a stickiness that adds a cherry liqueur note, and I'd be tempted to chalk that one up to the malt base, but the other beers are quite dry and light-bodied, so I suspect it's simply whatever flavouring additive they've used. I can't say I actually liked this one, but I appreciate its tenacity.

I got a laugh out of Hello My Name is Lieke, brewed with orange and representing the Netherlands, as in "House of...", I assume. Anyway, it's darker than average and really does taste of zesty orange. It's slightly artificial, more Fanta than the real thing, but it stands up to the hops and is a real orange IPA, even if it's increasingly apparent that no actual fruit was involved in the production of any of these. Still, it's tasty and clean, and probably the best so far.

Deliberately I put this next to the Spanish entry Hello My Name Is Maria which claims mandarin. It just tastes like a scaled back version of Lieke. Tanora instead of Fanta, sweeter but lighter, and those naughty hops are visible behind it. It's the most chemical-tasting so far, nearer to the flavour lab than the produce aisle, and I got an unspecific flashback to brightly coloured hard-coated chew sweets.

Last of this citrus trilogy is Hello My Name Is Sofia shouting for Italy and flavoured with lemon. Barely, it turns out. There's a lemon meringue pie filling sweetness but that's as lemony as it gets. Strangely the hop bitterness isn't taking the opportunity to seize control of the flavour profile — because the citrus is in sync? — and the end result is quite an inoffensive easy-going light lemony pale ale. There's no way you'd believe it was 8.2% ABV. You might believe it's a dilute floor cleaner, though.

Round three: berries. I'm starting on Hello My Name Is Marianne, representing France with blackcurrant, or "cassis" as the label pretentiously insists. It needn't have bothered, there's very little fruit, and actully not much hop either. I found myself forcefully looking for Ribena in here, but there's not even that. Meh. Moving on...

Hello My Name Is Sari uses bilberry and is the Finnish one. There's a definite blueberry twang off this (they're related you know) but it's quick and brief with nothing to replace it. The hops are behaving again and when it all settles down the fruit wafts back in, but it's ghost flavour: nothing substantial. It's fine, even