A few years ago, IPAs (India Pale Ales) were a rarity this side of the Atlantic but now we almost expect to see them on the bar of any decent real ale pub. Traditionally, you can expect the ABV of an IPA to be near to 6% (or higher) and this does put off some of the more `mild` ale enthusiasts. However, the numbers that favour this style is clearly on the up. A fair amount of credit for this trend ought to be credited to Thornbridge, Bakewell`s best brewers. Jaipur was, in its time, a seminal ale and some even reckon it was at worst `very influential` in the creation of Brew Dog`s infamous Punk IPA. However, times have changed, and both are now available in major supermarkets and many run-of-the-mill tied houses too. Thankfully, we sampled these new ales at the more amenable surroundings of The Coach and Horses, Dronfield and at The Cross Scythes, Derbyshire Lane, two of the very best Thornbridge boozers.
Thornbridge 2013 produce a lot of really good ales in an wide array of styles (see earlier twobeergeeks blog entries!) but many do still associate them with strong hoppy beers, and their latest releases do little to dispel this opinion but are these two tributes actually any good?
Otters Tears was brewed in conjunction with the Indy Man Beer Con experts and weighs in at a hefty 6%. It is a tasty drop without being remarkable and is dedicated to famed scooper Simon Johnson. Hoppy, pale, fairly citrus but nowt `standout`. Not a classic and a league or two below the likes of Kipling.
Danny`s Score - 7
Mike`s Score - 7
We were both excited by the prospect of Ryan`s Roar which proclaims itself as a "hugely flavoured New Zealand Pale Ale with passion fruit, mango and lychee tropical fruit aroma which give way to a dry bitter citrus and grapefruit created by the use of New Zealand hops Nelson Sauvin and Motueka" and is a tribute to Patrick Ryan, who was the father of Kelly Ryan, former brewer at Bakewell. The Thornbridge blurb is brave but we were undecided. Solid and drinkable but no bold flavours but easy quaffing tasting more 3.8% than 5.8%. The reassuring familiarity ensured that it was unlikely to offend the geek palate but not the banger of a beer that Jaipur was when it first started appearing at The Coach and Horses (back in the days when IPAs were more hen`s teeth than Speckled Hen). At least Ryan`s Roar is punctuated correctly if not exactly a `punk` ale.......!
Danny`s Score - 7.5
Mike`s Score - 6.5