BrewDog @ North Bar: IPA Isn’t Dead. It Just Smells Funny.
On Wednesday night Kate and I went to North Bar for their IPA Is Dead launch night. BrewDog have released four single-hopped IPAs, all with the same level of bitterness (75 IBU) and using the same base beer, a 7.5% “mini-Hardcore”. North Bar had all four on keg and it was £7 for a taster tray, in which you got a third of each.
I was particularly interested in this project as it really serves to showcase the hops, one of which I was very familiar with (Citra) and three less so. All of the beers were relatively sweet with a light carbonation. Kate (who has a more sophisticated palate than me generally) also took some detailed tasting notes.
The Citra IPA had a strong, sweet mango nose. The taste was the fruity bitterness as expected although I think the finish was more sweet fruitiness than sharp hoppy bitterness. The slightly cloying sweetness gave an overall impression of cheap sweeties.
The second IPA I tried had a much more subtle nose, but Kate thought it was flowery. The principal taste I got was a tingling black pepper flavour. Behind the pepper there was a lemony, herby base. As well as the lemons, Kate noticed peaches and lychees.
Bramling Cross/Bramling X
A really noticeable blackcurrant nose and a rounded, sweet, almost Ribena taste. Kate also detected a cakeyness that reminded her of blackcurrant crumble. She also noticed a slightly chalky mouthfeel.
I’d had Mikkeller’s Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA before and this came across as really quite similar. It had a sweet and sour aroma, by which I mean a smell that was both sweet and sour, rather than smelling like Chinese food.
I got a strong, sour, white winey, but really quite meaty flavour. The combination of sweetness and meatiness made me think of those tropical plants that smell like rotting meat to attract flies. Kate noted that the rotten grape and umami reminded her of the things she dislikes about white wine.
The Citra was a bit too sweet for both my and Kate’s liking without a stronger bitterness to balance it out, possibly as we’ve tried a lot of very good Citra beers recently (Summer Wine Diablo, Hawkshead Windermere Pale, O’Dell IPA).
The Bramling Cross was perhaps also a bit less to my tastes, due to the berry flavour, but was a very interesting beer. The Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin were the most complex and rewarding to drink and I opted for another half of the latter.
Speaking to Rob, Matt and others there did seem to be a general consensus forming that Nelson Sauvin was the best, although Kate plumped for the Sorachi Ace, which was a close second for me. All of them were good, interesting beers and I would be very happy to drink each of them again. I’d buy the bottles if they turned up in Beer Ritz so I could avoid the postage.
As well as the IPA Is Dead beers we got to try some unique Alice Porter that Matt had bottle-conditioned himself, which tasted less punchy than when it was on cask but nice and rounded. Alice Porter contains both Bramling Cross and Sorachi Ace.
I also brought along a couple of cans of new Punk IPA which I’d just received in the post. It had a really fruity nose but lacked bitterness both in the initial taste and the aftertaste: I would concur entirely with The Beer Monkey on this.
However, having not tried the new Punk in bottles or otherwise it’s difficult to know if it’s the new recipe or the canning process. However again this is a minor niggle and I do have another 10 cans to get through, which I don’t consider a hardship.
All-in-all it was another nice, friendly night at North trying great beers and chatting to beery people I already knew and some I didn’t (Tunks, Tuff). Again, Twissup in York in a couple of weeks looks like it’ll be great.
Things to look out for at North Bar in the coming months include a Belgian Beer Festival in March and a very exciting Thornbridge event where their core range will be available on keg!