Yesterday I tried to go to the London Drinker Festival but the queue was 100+ people deep and it was packed inside. It looked like a queue for a nightclub– not an un-ironic facial hair in sight. I’m thinking they were all students from the nearby university. I ended up at a pub with a friend drinking Tribute next to a table of screechy white wine drinkers, wondering if I’ll ever really get the hang of living in London, where even small pleasures like a beer festival are overrun with other humans, and crowds are the norm.
To soothe my angst, today I drink alone. What do I drink, you ask? Why, it’s that beer with pornographic promise, Brew Dog’s Hardcore IPA. After reading Mark’s tasting notes I immediately ordered some.
Wortwust will no doubt see me as a betrayer, drinking what can only be described as hop juice. The most significant sensation from all this is not just the lingering bitterness but the real alcohol warming in the belly. This is one comforting beer, which is strange because the brewery’s tasting notes are gleeful with hyperbole:
It just completely and utterly screws you over. It is like being raped by a hop monster! Yet somehow it is difficult to leave it alone. The 9% makes your head go fuzzy, the warm tingling adds to the confusion. This beer messes you up so much you want to keep on drinking it just to try and figure out what is going on.
At 150 IBUs I have to wonder if I am just getting used to massive hoppage? Because I have had hoppier beers. Stone’s Ruination and my friend Bob’s dry hopped beer he made while in the Netherlands were serious pallet f*ckers, but this one doesn’t coat your mouth in hop oils. There’s definitely room for other flavors here and I call that a win.
Hops are an acquired taste. I used to hate hoppy beers, and then something clicked. I had a hop breakthrough drinking Crouch Vale Amarillo, and I realized I would be craving these flowers forevermore. There isn’t much concept of a moderate session beer in the brews I really take to. Maybe if I came of age quaffing ales in sessions with mates these beers would be impractical or a “sideshow.”
This particular beer is definitely a hop panorama, like putting your face in a potpouri bowl of hops. The mouthfeel is peppery, a gentle effervesence releases the esters. There is a very brief melon roundness that is immediately seared, dried out. It’s all here– the rose petals crushed by the footfall of pine and grapefruit peel. Whatever sweetness is just left on the lips to dry there. You could almost forget this is carrying the whole thing.
There is barely any malt character to this beer but do I care? No.
As for food matching, right now I am craving a Thai spicy green curry, or corn chips with black bean, jalapeno and mango salsa. Call me crazy but I’m also thinking a chili-marinated halloumi burger with beet slaw would rock. But I have none of these things so the real test will have to wait. I have two more bottles after all.