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Brew Dog – Hardcore IPA

Brew Dog – Hardcore IPA
Andrew Sharp

When I think of India Pale Ales, I don’t think of The Subcontinent, I’d venture to guess that most of you don’t either. Maybe California or Comstock, MI, but probably not India. The IPA is a British invention that is as tired as that other big British invention: Watt’s steam engine. America does IPAs the right way – the American IPA is the Saturn V rocket to the paltry British IPA. Or at least so I thought.

James Watt may have been the name of the inventor of the modern day steam engine, however when the names James Watt and Martin Dickie are mentioned in craft beer circles, ears tend to perk up. That’s because their brewery, Brew Dog, makes beer. Good beer. Great Beer. Record Breaking Beer. And all from Scotland, home to the James Watt of yore.

Brew Dog, along with Hardcore IPA produces some superlatively exotic and adventurous beers: an IPA brewed at the bottom of the sea, a beer that was originally only served from a taxidermied deer, and beers that were not only highest alcohol content and priced brews ever made, they were also sold in stuffed squirrels and stoats. The long and short of it is that this is high quality, inventive beer. The kind of stuff you’d expect out of Dogfish Head in their Limited release, only they use too many letters to spell words like aluminum and color, and have a seriously backwards idea of “football.”

My luck wasn’t good enough to run across any beer served in taxidermy this week. Thankfully too, taxidermy in SW Ohio tends to lead to shady situations. Fortunately Brew Dog’s Hardcore IPA is tastefully packaged in a cardboard 4 pack holder.

This beer pours surprisingly cloudy – it’s definitely not filtered. That gives it an intriguing appearance, I’ve got to be careful not to stare into it for too long looking for the other side – I’ll be here all night. The nose is very malt forward. The taste starts out with a biscuty bite then transitions into the mildly bitter, high aromatic notes that you’d expect from a brew with “dry hopped warrior” on the box. The brew finishes smooth with some fruity notes.

Maybe that’s the intended nose, but I’ll bet its original aromatics have mellowed out a bit on the trip over from Scotland. I’m still ahead of the “expiration date” on the bottle, but for a beer brewed 4000 miles away, I doubt its age is measured in anything less than months. I love floral, aromatic hop bursts on the end of IPAs, and I can see this beer having one then fading a bit with age, but that may be me projecting my personal preferences on beers which don’t have my ideal preferred profile. Hardcore IPA is a great imperial IPA – I wish I could have it at the brewery to get the full floral flavors of the hops. Definably in contention with some of the widely available imperial IPAs like Great Lake’s Lake Erie Monster, or Founder’s Double Trouble – I’d certainly buy this again.

James Watt’s answer to the modern age of hoppy American double IPAs was to take the status quo of boring British IPAs, knock them down and replace them with Hardcore IPA, a nuclear powered steam engine of a beer.

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