Thursday, March 10, 2011

BrewDog Brouhaha... Brewhaha?

Brewery: BrewDog
Location: Fraserburg, Scotland
Names: 5 A.M. Saint and Hardcore IPA
Types: Iconoclastic Amber Ale and Explicit Imperial Ale, respectively
ABV: 5.0% and 9.2%
5 A.M. Saint where should I start? Should I start with the insulting yet almost accurate diatribe on the side of the bottle concerning how most people consume bad beer and know little about beer? Worry not, the chastising changes pace and lets the reader know that the folks at BrewDog won't stand for an inferior product. I feel like we should start with what the iconoclast looks like. Hazy amber that looks like its trying to tip the scales toward red. There's a bit of a puffy head that spends some time hanging around but doesn't do any sort of work when it comes to lacing the glass. There's a permanent hop scent present that is mostly citrusy in nature. There's also a fair amount of sweet malt in the bouquet. Once you're tasting this ale you realize that the hops in the nose are a bit of a put on. You do have a nice taste of hops up front but it fades quickly giving way to slightly earthy carbonation and finally returning on the back end. The earthy flavor lingers throughout the beer but isn't a distraction. To me, 5 A.M. Saint felt a little hollow. I wonder if my conditioning to higher ABV beers is skewing my perception of this beer? In any case, I would drink 5 A.M. Saint on warmer days probably while watching a baseball game... It's a far better drink than Icehouse. The nicest thing about it is that you can probably put several back and not have to worry about being blotto or feeling too full. However, if I had to choose between Saint and a different beer (say, Hardcore IPA) I would probably pass on it.
Save the preaching. Make a better amber.  
So the label says that according to the Surgeon General...err, umm...wrong side of the label. The label says this IPA has a lot of stuff in it. There are numbers about ingredients in a slightly braggartly (which is totally a word) manner to fully bring to light the attitude of BrewDog. These guys know beer and they know they know beer and they will do what they can to make you feel like you know less about beer than they do. Cheers mates! If Hardcore and 5 A.M. Saint got into a fight I feel like Hardcore would fight dirty. And then insult 5 A.M Saint. All in all, Hardcore is more bark than bite. Orange and amber blend nicely once this beer is in a proper drinking vessel. The small head that does show up is pretty shy and dissipates as quickly as it forms. I found the bouquet to be fairly interesting. You have the requisite hops of several variety but the more floral scented ones seem to shine through. I also picked up hints of something slightly sweeter, possibly vanilla. A healthy dose of earthy notes are also apparent when taking a whiff. Hardcore has a pleasant mouthfeel with a decent amount of carbonation, though not as much as Saint. I was expecting to have to deal with a blast of hops on my initial taste but was surprised to find out that I was not being overpowered by hops. Instead I experienced a flavor combination that consisted of some piney hops being overshadowed by floral hops. There is a moment of creamy clarity in the middle where that slightly vanilla-y flavor comes through. The whole thing is rounded out by a slightly bitter aftertaste so typical of an IPA. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Hardcore is that there's virtually no trace of a higher alcohol content. No warming, no boozy finish, no nothing. Hardcore is a respectable IPA though I wouldn't call it an explicit ale. When compared to other imperial IPAs, Hardcore is nowhere near as sweet or thick as Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA nor is it as hoppy as Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum... But! It is incredibly drinkable and rather tasty. So if you can get past the "Hoppier than thou" preachings on the label I suggest you grab a Hardcore and enjoy thoroughly.
Ought to be called AttitudeDog Brewery.

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