(6% English make from 330ml bottle) This is my first from the largest independent Scottish brewery, Brewdog. Love them, or hate them, they make an impressive range of beer and I am happy to begin sampling their line. As far as aquiring one of their beers, beyond ordering it online, the only other place I have seen the BrewDog line here in London is at the Utobeer stall in Borough Market. So check them out next time not only for this one, but also the best bottle selection I have come to find in the city.
The BrewDog Punk IPA describes itself as a ‘Post modern classic pale ale’, and if you check out the link there is even a very 20 somethings ‘punky’ promotional video. Not your standard English ale to say the least. When poured it provides an immense fluffy white head, seemingly like a Belgian Triple, but with a slightly darker off-white color. Head sticks around just likes the strong taste and befuddlement over their marketing.
In the glass it has a pale ale/ light copper color with a near lager clarity. On the nose there are hints of the extra pale Maris Otter malty sweetness, and strong hops. While always seeking a balance in your IPA, you won’t be disappointed in the strength of these hops.
The Punk IPA has a wonderfully smooth taste, with a drying, slightly bubbly finish on the tongue…its a taste that lingers with hoppy goodness. It carries an almost citrus finish (they describe it as a hint of lime) and bitingly tart: a near grapefruit tartness. There is a depth here, and an impressive overall taste. Leaves a bit of sugar on the lips as well.
The taste owes heavily to the hops used: Chinook (US), Ahtanum (US), and Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand). The Chinock hop is very high in alpha acidity, meaning that it contributes greatly to the bitter flavor of beers. This is opposed to the beta acids, which do not contribute to the taste, but rather to the aroma. So, a hop such as Chinock which is high in alpha acids will have a strong bitter taste. The next hop, the Ahtanum, which is also from the States, has a medium level of acidity. However, like the Chinook, it imparts a bit of citrus flavor, and in particular that of grapefruit. This, to me, is one of the paramount tastes in this beer. The final hop, Nelson Sauvin, is the seemingly secret ingredient from New Zealand. The latter part of the name is due to its fresh fruit taste like the Sauvignon blanc grape variety grown in the same climate. It shares the same acidity as the Chinook, again working to push the bitter taste through.
Now, to the one bit which cannot go unnoticed about BrewDog – their marketing. This bottles asserts itself with some teenage words of provocation:
“This is not a lowest common denomination beer. This is an aggressive beer. We don’t care if you don’t like it. We do not merely aspire to the proclaimed heady heights of conformity through neutrality or blandness. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste of the sophistication to appreciate the depth, character and quality of this premium craft beer. You probably don’t even care that this rebellious beer contains no preservatives and uses only the finest natural ingredients. Just go back to drinking you mass marketed, bland, cheaply made watered down lager, and close the door behind you”.
While agree with most of what is said there, they present themselves less like the true ‘punks’ they are marketing themselves as, and more like insecure teenagers seeking a reaction. You don’t need to tell people you are punk rock, you just are. So, I appreciate the effort, but if I were to call a beer ‘punk’ anything, I would present it a little bit differently. Talk is cheap, and while the beer does speak for itself on flavor, the false chip on the shoulder is a little off-putting.
Overall, a beer of definite attitude and character. Assuming that’s what they were going for with the, ‘I don’t care what you think of me, that’s why I am making a point of telling you I don’t care‘. Right. However, minus the fabricated attitude, it’s a good IPA and well recommended. I would have settled with a top ten punk rock songs list, perhaps posing the question ‘what has punk rock done for me’, or what being punk really means to the brewery, and how this beer embodies that. But hell, its good, and I guess they got me writing, so good on you.
For a taste of what punk rock has come to mean to me now, check out William Elliot Whitmore to see what the old devils are up to. He puts on hands down one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, along with being one of the most stand up gentlemen I have ever had the joy of having a pint with. Cheers!