Sunday, 24 July 2016

DIPA Battle #3 - Cloudwater v4 vs. v5

The latest double IPAs to hit our shelves and the latest bit of canny marketing by the chaps over at Manchester Piccadilly; two very similar beers but which works best? Cloudwater DIPA V4 and V5 are both 9% monsters made using the same hops for bittering and aroma and the same malts too. However, V4 is dry-hopped during fermentation whilst this occurs after fermentation with V5. Citra and mosaic are two of our favourites and they`re both in the mix somewhere so bound to be good......?


Never judge by appearances they say but, if you did, these two are more like half brothers than fully-fledged siblings. V4 is fairly clear and there is quite a lot of visible carbonation to start with whilst V4 has a beautiful peachy summer haze.

Aromatics are key with this style and usually a signature of Cloudwater`s seasonal agenda and so the IPAs abound with tropical fruits. V4 has a fresh, alpine, resinous hit alongside pineapples and grapefruits but the taste cannot quite live up to the aromas. Balance in both brews is good as the hefty alcoholic backbone is filled out by all the bitter sweet fruit flavours. V5 has a more pungent nose and we meet over-ripe peaches and maybe apricot in there too. The bitterness lasts alongside a boozy warmth in the mouth. V4 just tastes fresher, but maybe with less complexity. After prevaricating and pontificating, we need a winner.


After all that, I have to say that there isn`t much to choose between these two. Both good beers and at a decent price (about £4 from the ever-improving range at Mitchell`s) but I have recently had better DIPAs. In fact, you know what,  I`m calling it a draw and, I`m afraid to say, I actually preferred V3! Give them a go though. 7.5 / 10 from me.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Serpent - Thornbridge & Brooklyn Brewery

Eagerly-awaited this one. Bring Garrett Oliver straight from Brooklyn and its globally-esteemed brewery to drop him in rural Derbyshire. Add Rob from Thornbridge into the mix 'n' see what happens. Enter Serpent.
Posing at the home of football / Sheffield FC
The pair went south to enlist the expertise of Hereford's cider kings Oliver's to utilise their expertise in the use of Lees,  the natural cider yeast, and then add it to a Belgian-style golden ale in barrels, age it for a year, before bottle-conditioning.
"Dry, tart, firm, fine and funky",  an expression of "great British brewing, American boldness and Herefordshire's countryside"   proclaims the label but what do we reckon....
Belgian Golden ales are still not my favourite style of beer but there is plenty of complexity in Serpent to test the palette. Creamy head with a slightly hazy but smooth golden body; textbook. A fresh fruity feel (for an aged beverage) and balanced despite being 9+%.  Trans-atlantic success right here. The sour elements are tantalising in the aftertaste and left me wondering how this one would taste after more ageing in the bottle. Best buy another.....?!
*Cheers to King James the Broad at the esteemed Coach & Horses for securing an early purchase of this beaut. Looking forward to more sour adventures with Thornbridge soon. Watch this space.....

Friday, 8 July 2016

DIPA battle #2 - Beavertown `Bloody Notorious` vs Vocation `Smash & Grab`

We told you: The Double IPA is THE beer style of the year. All the big boy brewers have been duking it out in this corner of the beeriodic table. In a previous bit we saw Magic Rock's Human Cannonball triumph over Cloudwater (prolific DIPA dons in 2016) and Buxton Brewery's Kingmaker.

 Next match up sees Vocation of Hebden Bridge representing Yorkshire and the North against southern behemoths Beavertown and their heralded and hyped Notorious, Blood Orange DIPA. Both brews were sourced from the ever-reliable Hop Hideout, after a Mikkeller running club meet, but that's a story for another day.....!

 Both beers are canned and very stylish. Vocation are distinctive and quietly stylish. We like the clear and descriptive information that tells us this Smash and Grab is `Golden`, `Tropical & Citrus` and tastes of `Hop Juice`, 8.5% hop juice, that`ll be then. All true and helpful pre-purchase as is the price of just under four quid whilst the Notorious is nearly a quid more, ah tell thee! Beavertown are also distinctive and stylish but louder, London style, and price - ?

 Both have crisp, citrus, fruity aromas but nothing particularly hefty, maybe you'd expect more.

 Appearance after pouring they differ more. Vocation are big on the unfined, unpasteurized and unfiltered process resulting in a cloudy body particularly as you add the dregs of the can. CAMRA marking would probably score this down ironically but for many beer geeks it's fine to be unfined, unless you're big into fish guts!
Meanwhile, Bloody Notorious is bloody full of bloody fizz bit this does disappear quickly in the mouth and fades pretty swiftly in the glass leaving the brew looking more marsala than DIPA after a few minutes bemusingly. Taste-wise the alcohol is prominent (after a brief orange hit) but it is 9.1% afterall. S & G has a different and longer-lasting aftertaste with a diminishing bitterness after a citrussy start. Both good beers undoubtedly but DIPA is the most competitive area of craft at the moment so I'm going:-
Bloody Notorious - 7 / 10
Smash & Grab - 7.5 / 10
A narrow but deserved win for the North. Cheers gents!