Beer Me! Epic Brewing’s Hop Zombie

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To continue my journey down under, I sink my gullet next into the tres fashionable Epic Brewing from Auckland, NZ. This is the Imperial IPA of the moment, garnering more social media activity over a “regular brew” than most seasonal or one-off launches. Perhaps the greater availability and freshness has caused this NZ-slide.

Hop Zombie is their BIG IPA. Not a beer for pansies. Apparently. I found it to be more than pleasant.

A delightful caramel warmth and sweetness starts within your olfactory with tropical fruits, pineapple and mango, giving a “Man from Del Monte” kiss to you. It smells of Um Bongo.

You pour and a light fizz gives way to more juiciness, you sip and there’s no overarching bitter kick, it’s a surprise for a beer shouting about how hoppy it is – but NZ hops aren’t there for kicking your tastebuds into touch, they’re there to caress you with juicy tenderness. Oo-err missus.

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It’s so perfectly balanced I can’t quite believe it – it’s reasonable fresh, fantastically so given the distance it’s travelled, peachy and fuzzy.

An amber orange delight, but rather than containing dino-blood sucking mozzies, we have all the hops singing in harmony, not at the expense of your palate and it’s detriment into over bitter pucking mouthdom.

It passes my “wife test” for an IPA – whereas most garner a bit of a gurning “sucking lips inwards” face, this make a small smile happen with a “woah” to add. Fantastic beer, that will be sought after on all future shopping trips – this is a cosmic event of an IPA.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Ilkley Brewery Co & Yeastie Boys’ 3.74 Degrees

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Having a spectacularly relaxing few days in the Ilkley moors, It really only felt right to sample some of the local produce – and far be it for me to argue. A spectacular new bottle shop having opened in the heart of Ilkley – Fuggle & Golding have got off to a wonderful start with some essential drinking in stock, and some limited and hard to find rarities. Top that off with a few keg lines with growler filling technology and you’re onto a sure fire winner with me.

Yes, that’s right, that’s a hot tub. That’s just how I roll….in North Yorkshire.

Balmy weather for balmy beer, I do have a habit of making some strange, palate chasing choices, and this is no different.

Ilkley Brewery and Yeastie Boys have collaborated with 3.74 Degrees, apparently the new “degree of separation” from the UK to NZ. The NZ brewing scene has quite recently exploded over here in the UK, and I’m happy to have it’s beery embrace – anything that brings more, better and fresher beer to me, is something I can get behind.

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Initially sherbetty, it gives way to a crashing hit of palma violets, and this one is hard to shake, for the worse i’m afraid. It completely dominates this beer once you recognise it, and the “Belgian blonde” styling is ruined by it.

The only remnants of being a Belgian style relate to it’s dryness, a treacle edge of sweetness that breaks into the palma fragrance.

I’ve tried comparing this to the Stone Green Tea IPA I tried earlier this year, but where that wore it’s adjunct sweetly and innocently, this batters you round the head with it.

It’s earthy and herbal, but like a shampoo commercial, where the woman is clearly faking it. Guava, bubblegum and the methyl benzoate produced by the added dried Feijoa fruit are front and centre, with little else to add. You can have a half of this and no more.

A lingering lemongrass bitterness pervades, but it’s ultimately like a trip to an old-school sweet shop, and drowning your head in powdery bonbons.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

Beer Me! Jaipur vs. Jaipur X – Clash of the Thornbridge Titans?

Jaipur1After the self-harm that was playing the recently released Bloodborne, I needed some form of beery respite to calm the goddamn hell down, and to stop me looking uneasily into every shadow.

Thankfully i’d left a couple of lovely beers in the fridge to top off an incredible Sunday roast dinner (Pork joint, awesome roasties, and proper homemade Yorkshire puddings, just in-case you were wondering….sorry).

An interesting one this – Thornbridge’s 10 year anniversary is upon us, and to celebrate they have brewed an anniversary edition of their first beer – the delight that is Jaipur. Reletively little introduction is needed to Thornbridge, they were one of the first to really kick the UK craft beer scene into action, so they are rightly held with some high regard. I thought it would provide a good opportunity to revisit the classic, and give the “X” a good go, having missed it on draught on release.

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First up is the classic, Jaipur, clocking in at 5.9%. The instant you pour the light flax-like beer, it froths into it’s beautiful cream-ale style head, chilled to perfection.

Quickly, and without having to go near it, your head swims with passionfruit, pomegranate seeds and a hit of lime. There’s this light spiced ale aroma to it, reminding me of a passage from an old Star Wars novel (sorry, nerdcore) where Han orders from a dive bar – amazing memories. It’s Wit-like, but with a bigger bready malt quality, without the coriander.

It slips down the throat too easily – citrus juice explodes like taking a bite out of a breakfast grapefruit, with every part of the pucking aftertaste, big lemony undertones, overplaying the lime aroma.

It’s just made my cat do her typical “Ahmergherd, Alcohol” face. I have not yet posted a cat picture. I may yet. I am thankful she isn’t into beer, for it’s my one vestige of defence of food and drink that she won’t steal. FInally a small alcoholic hit dissolves into the juicy aftertaste and it’s done. Too easy drinking really.

Round 2 – ding ding.

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Onto the “X”. It pours a little darker, as expected, but is unexpectedly light bodied for a 10% beer. It retains a light froth, clinging to the glass like fine lace – beer clean glass? Yes, Sir.

There’s a huge alcoholic punchiness on the nose, yet there’s no denying it’s roots. A lot more strong lime, almost a cordial element – with a weird touch of liquorice that might just be me going crazy.

The first taste overwhelms, and gives a huge toasty caramel sweetness, almost giving a berry tartness. Syrupy. The sweetness is massively overplaying the classic Jaipur bitterness, giving a mandarin or orange squash (from concentrate, natch) swirl to the palate.

There’s no huge aftertaste, but there ‘s more juice in this fruit. The alcoholic warmth is there, only.

“If it ain’t broke” applies to this situation, but as a beer in it’s own right, its…fine? Glowing Endorsement as that is.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

Beer Me! Westbrook Brewing Co – Gose

Back again, and this time with a beer that’s certainly been doing the round on the hype-train – Westbrook Brewing Co’s Gose. Now, this is a style i’ve never had before, so really have no point of reference, but wow, was I blown away…

Guff on the website:

GOSE

4% ABV     5 IBU

This is our interpretation of Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”), a traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback.


Initially it hits a fine line between musty and fresh but actually, going back to it, it’s incredibly bright and fragrant – just a different style of aroma than I’m used to.

It reminds me of Lemon Ice tea, wheat beer ester-style yeast display – and heavily opaque in colour – it has a light lemon-juice yellow look to it (much unlike the 1000 filter production i’ll inevitably post on here).

There’s a weird Umami beef tomato warmth that hits you – it’s so slight but it underlies the aroma

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Taking that first taste, and it’s all overpowering – Lemon, lime and indian tonic water – almost a gin note to it – I expect from the coriander, but no creaminess that you expect from the wheat.

The effervescent nature of the beer swirls around on the tongue leads it to play with your senses, giving you sparkling cava and sour gooseberry.

WB_Gose2Then as it finishes and falls down your throat, there’s a big lime salsa monster circling around your esophagus, flailing around with his arms of subtle chilli heat but without the spiciness.

It’s a liquid tank of childhood sweets. Sour Haribo tangfastics, with salt highlighting your tongues papillae and making them sing in chorus.

A truly excellent beer that I will continue to search out on the run-up to hot summer drinking nights.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.