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Western Herd is, to my mind, one of the hop-happiest of Ireland's breweries, and has been since their wares first came my way in 2016. 2020 sees them put beer out in cans for the first time, and the two I bought certainly gave their reputation a boost.

The more modest of the pair is an IPA called Cliff Road: 5.5% ABV and brewed using Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra minimally in the boil but extensively in the whirlpool and fermenter. It looks like a full-on New England, being that beaten-egg yellow emulsion. I get pithy satsuma and sweeter pineapple in the aroma, though some gritty caraway seed as well. Resins? It's got 'em. The first sip delivers hop napalm, pure and thick, scorching across the tongue. That minimal bittering addition was having a good day at the office. When the burn subsides a little there's a leafy green flavour, something I'd associate with German or English hops more than these Americans. Citra's lime and grapefruit is the next noticeable flavour, while the finish has a concentrated white-onion sharpness. Although it's far from thin it's definitely not a New England IPA, lacking the soft fluff. Nuance and balance don't feature but, as with many of Western Herd's previous beers, I admired and enjoyed its sheer intensity.

From there the only way is up, to The Height. This is a double IPA of 8% ABV made with 26g per litre of Idaho 7, Citra, El Dorado and Mosaic. It looks downright green, like something poured off the sample tap mid-fermentation. The colour is a pale custard rather than egg yolk, while the aroma is pineapple again, dusted with coconut. Do you like piña coladas? Perhaps unsurprisingly it tastes like biting right into a raw hop pellet. There's a rush of harsh and concentrated green cabbage or Brussels sprout which only softens as far as thick lime peel before finishing on grapefruit pith and paper. This is the point where hop-happiness tips over into Joker territory. It's scary and a little unpleasant, though I have no doubt it's what the brewers meant it to be. Beyond the core flavour there are no flaws, and not even much heat. It's just a crazy, stupid, nasty amount of big American hops -- the beer equivalent of those novelty hot sauces your incel mates brag about. Approach with extreme caution.

The trilogy would have been complete with a pastry stout or something similarly sweet and soothing, but there's no such option. I'm away to give my tongue an ice bath and a lie down.