Friday, August 5, 2011

Punk IPA (BrewDog)

And now for a highly annotated introduction: I was at State Line Liquors purchasing my biweekly contribution to Beer Club, when my buddy Justin (a.k.a. "luckiest dude currently drawing breath") pointed out that August 4 is International #IPADay. He grabbed a 750ML Punk IPA off the shelf, and on an impulse I grabbed one too.

As I observed in my review of Railbender Ale, "Scotland" and "beer" are hardly synonymous. The pointedly iconoclastic founders of BrewDog would love to change that. They are hitting the market with tons of attitude, an interesting lineup of brews (and I even exclude from that statement their "shock value" alcohol bombs of 32% and 41% ABV), and videos of them heartily demolishing bottles of Budweiser, Becks, Carlsberg, and Stella Artois. They describe Punk IPA as a "post modern classic pale ale." Let's try to figure out what in the world they might mean by that.

The pour raises several inches of fluffy and sturdy off-white foam. The beer is yellow gold with a warm orange aura, and it is quite hazy. Large sheets of lacing lined my glass when I was done.

At close range, the enticing nose is of fresh citrus, earthy hops, and butter. Knowing how heavily they've laid on the hops in this recipe, I am surprised that the aroma does not project further.

The first taste is tremendously bitter -- BUT... then comes a surprising wave of fresh malt flavor. (I wonder whether a dimension of that fresh green taste may actually be the hops flowers themselves, rather than their aromatic oils? A non-brewing amateur beer lover speculates.) It is a delicious scarcely-roasted barley taste. So, maybe a "post modern" IPA is one that treats malt as a co-star rather than a mere delivery platform for hops characteristics?

I don't detect a lot of what I think of as fruit flavors in the body, which is a distinction from most of the bigged-up American IPAs. It is a nice difference, actually. After the barley, I taste a trailing note of lilac perfume. Punk's mouthfeel is not particularly heavy for the amount of flavor delivered, and its carbonation is adequate but quite soft feeling on the tongue.

This is an intensely flavorful but hardly outlandish IPA. It is obviously influenced more by the American (and particularly West Coast) style trend than by the English tradition from which it arises, yet it is not likely to be mistaken for an American IPA. I really enjoyed drinking this one, and if price and availability were not major factors I would love to have it on a regular basis. For now it will remain for rare occasions like International #IPADay.

From the bottle's label:

BrewDog: Beer for Punks

Beer was never meant to be bland, tasteless and apathetic.

At BrewDog we are setting the record straight.

We are committed to making the highest quality beers with the finest fresh natural ingredients.

Our beers are in no way commercial or mainstream.

We do not merely aspire to the proclaimed heady heights of conformity through neutrality and blandness.

We are unique and individual.

A beacon of non-conformity in a increasingly monotonous corporate desert.

We are proud to be an intrepid David in a desperate ocean of insipid Goliaths.

We are proud to be an alternative.

Featured beer:
Punk IPA

Honorable mention:
Railbender Ale

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