The earth has gone around the sun one more time which means that it’s time for a new set of shiny hoppy releases from BrewDog. Well, I’m assuming it’s going to be a yearly thing, based on the fact that it’s a year since the first lot appeared, but in any case I’ve finally got round to drinking my way through this year’s range of IPA is Dead beers.
I wrote about last year’s lot, well, last year and the plan is the same again this time – brew the same beer, only differing in one respect: which hop was used. Four beers, four hops and four different flavour profiles, all the better to see what influence each different variety has. And so – on to the beers:
First up HBC. The name of this hop is a little misleading as it’s not really called HBC. It’s from the USA and was produced by HBC, the Hop Breeding Company, and as far as I know it didn’t have an actual name at the time of the brewing of the beer. However, since then it’s been named and hit general release – it’s now called Mosaic, slightly catchier than HBC-369 as it was when it was still a prototype. I can’t find much about it other than it’s the most recently released varietal from HBC and that a few brewers have been playing with it. So, what does it do:
Nose: Dried apricots, pineapple, damp hop loft, woody spice – a really beautiful nose.
Taste: Not all that much. Some piney bitterness, but not a lot of the aromatics from the nose. Picks up a bit more tropical fruit (mainly sour pineapple) as it warms. Pleasantly bitter but not all that interesting.
Finish: The apricots from the nose are back, along with damp pine needles.
Excellent aromas but not much on the taste for me. It’s part of the mix for BrewDog’s new 3.8% pale ale (named Dead Pony Club at the recent AGM) and from the IPA is Dead I’d say that being part of a mix is probably the best place for it.
Next that I tried was Galaxy. It’s an Australian hop introduced in 1994 and was bred from Perle, which Wikipedia informs me is a German hop. It seems to be primarily used as a bittering hop and a substitute for Citra, although it’s specifically sold as dual purpose and works well as an aroma hop as well. The internet says that it produces a flavour combining passion fruit and citrus. However:
Nose: Green and mulchy, hint of pine, pineapple and peaches.
Taste: Lots of green bitter flavours, some sour passion fruit, a touch of unripe pineapple.
Finish: Grapefruit, pine, green mulchy hop and a hint of damp bark.
A little bit of the passion fruit came through on the palate, but with this much hop in the mix it went a bit mulchy and green.
Next, Challenger. This is the English hop in the mix, introduced in 1972 and used in English bitters since then. It’s also the one in the mix that I’d heard of before the recent American IPA explosion.
Nose: Sour orange, ginger, hint of rubber, curry spices, green herbs.
Taste: Spicy, leafy, rich orange, moss and bark, red berries and soft fruit.
Finish: Sour, bitter orange, dark chocolate, lingering forest hints.
Like with the Bramling X from last year this was my favourite – leafy rather than mulchy and with some interesting fruit flavours. It’s quite unlike the others and hopefully will be as unpopular with other people as the Bramling was last year, to give me a chance to buy up a load if they put it up online on its own.
Finally, we have Motueka. Another recent New Zealand variety, bred from Saaz and used again as a dual purpose hop. It started off as a lager oriented hop, as Saaz generally is, but seems to have grown in popularity as an addition to bitters and ales. It’s meant to be big on the citrus with a bit of tropical fruit:
Nose: Sweet mandarins and mango.
Taste: Sweet and sour orange, piney resin, sweet peachy/berry edge.
Finish: Orange peel with bitter pith, pine needles, bitter mulchy grass.
I definitely got the citrus, although tending to the orange end of the spectrum more than the lemon and lime I’ve read about. There was some nice fruit coming through in the body which turned pleasantly into bitter citrus at the end. My second favourite.
With the appearance of the BrewDog bar in Camden and my trip to the AGM I got to try all four beers both on tap and in a bottle and found that there wasn’t much difference between them. This makes me quite happy, as my real aley origins generally gear me to expecting less from the bottled version of beers rather than those on tap. However, BrewDog’s love of the keg means that there isn’t much/any difference between the tap and bottle versions keeping things nice and consistent. Anyways, now to wait until next year’s selection…
IPA is Dead HBC/Galaxy/Challenger/Motueka
Single Hop Scottish IPA, 7.5%. £10.99 for a pack of all 4. Now sold out, it seems. Still available on tap in BrewDog bars.