09 July 2018

Hot balls

An opportunity to expand my horizons with regard to Magic Rock's Cannonball+ series presented itself recently, with the arrival of two unfamiliar iterations to Irish shores.

Neo-Human Cannonball is labelled as a double IPA but at 9.2% ABV is where many breweries begin their triple designation. Obviously  NewEnglandification is afoot here. It's appropriately orange, opaque and bad at keeping a head. The aroma is pleasant and tropical: pineapple, peach, mango and whatnot. The flavour is surprisingly plain: no bright juicy fruits leap out from the get-go. Instead it's sweet like a candy chew sweet, and almost as thick. A custard vanilla note lurks just behind this, then a jolt of fruit syrup, followed swiftly by an afterburn of booze heat. And that's it: all done very quickly leaving me wondering where my €7.35 went. I deem this lacklustre trend-chasing effort the Scrappy-Doo of the series.

I hoped for better from Un-Human Cannonball, a full-fat triple IPA at 11% ABV, and one that's been around for a good few years now. It doesn't look that different from the previous beer: still opaque orange, though maybe a little darker. There's an unsettling non-hop bitter quality to the aroma, like high-cocoa chocolate or strong coffee. The flavour is definitely beery: doubling down on US IPA's features with concentrated citrus pith and a harsh but pleasing alcohol burn. This is a bad boy with a quiff and a motorbike, and you probably shouldn't go where's he's bringing you, but it's a loud, thrilling and intoxicating ride. It fully meets the requirements of the spec, but I don't know that I actually enjoyed it. I respected it though. You have to.

The punchline: neither of these modern variations impressed me the way plain old Cannonball did when I first tasted it back in 2014. Perhaps those were just happier times.

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