Visit The Beer Nut site

O Brother is giving the orders today. All the beers have an instruction for you.

Speak No Evil bears the idiosyncratic style of "DH [dry hopped] kveik pilsner". Is there a point when you've twiddled with the hopping and yeast where it stops being a pilsner? It looks like an unfiltered one. Very unfiltered, to the point of opalescent opacity, topped by a dandelion clock of foam. The aroma is not that of a pils either: mixing a rough caraway savouriness with sweet fruit candy, leaving just a background lemon effect which might pass muster in a classic lager. Its flavour made me tone down the snark, however. The hop is Meridian, an American variety with a complex pedigree, but it mimics nobility very well: there's a pleasing hard bitterness, waxy and grassy with added celery and asparagus. And then the finish is clean, leaving just a hum of that green waxy thing after it. While not especially crisp, the mouthfeel does have an acceptable level of fluff for an unfiltered pils. Having grumbled about the specs I'm now upset about how much I liked it. Pilsner purists will find much to enjoy here if they leave their preconceptions behind.

It's a big leap from pilsner to double IPA, but that's where we're taken, with Hear No Evil. It's a clear and sunny sort, 8.3% ABV and brewed with Ekuanot, Citra and BRU-1. The aroma is fruity and oddly sour: cherries and gooseberries, with no malt or alcohol elements. Very unusual. It's a more typical DIPA on tasting. For one thing it's seriously thick, requiring effort to draw it from the glass. It's not hot but it doesn't hide its strength, showing a clean but powerful malt weight: you know from the first sip that this is a Big Beer. The flavour is quite understated for what it is. Nothing leaps out immediately; one needs a moment to locate the concentrated mango, grapefruit and honeydew melon lurking within. Beyond the subtle hopping, it's all a bit syrupy: not in a bad way, but heavy and sweet, lacking a little in bittering balance. And on balance I liked it. It's nothing fancy, the hops don't try to overpower the whole thing, and there are no off-flavours. This may not be how double IPA is normally brewed in the New England era, but there's a place for its gentle and comforting warmth.

I genuinely thought the brewery was going to leave me hanging with those two, so almost accidentally passed by See No Evil when it arrived a few days later. This really belongs in the middle of the set, being an IPA of 6.7% ABV. It's a hazy fellow, unsurprisingly, and a medium orange colour in the glass. Simcoe and Mosaic are the sum of the hops but they do a great deal with them, starting at the powerful tropical aroma, roaring out peach and passionfruit, with a slightly more serious dank grass in behind. The dankness doesn't really materialise in the flavour, nor any bitterness: a fluffy vanilla sweetness buries them, which is a bit of a shame, but that's just the sort of beer it is. The fruit hangs around though, leaving plenty of mango, apricot and cantaloupe to enjoy. It's a little hot in the finish, but otherwise none of the standard haze flaws are manifest and I rather enjoyed it as a result. They could have called it "Taste No Evil".

Lastly, the long-awaited collaboration between O Brother and the Sugababes is a triple IPA called Push the Button. It's a mostly clear affair, amber coloured with only the faintest of misting. 10.2% ABV means it shouldn't be surprising that it pours thickly and smells syrupy. Galaxy and Eclipse are the hops, and they take a while to make themselves heard over the heavy caramel malt foretaste. When they do they bring marmalade and orange jelly, mainly to the finish and aftertaste. I'm not averse to the clean and sharp heat that one normally finds with triple IPAs; this one, however, is stickier and I made slow work of it. By the half-way point it had warmed unacceptably and was now actively difficult to drink. I can understand why these are usually fermented out drier. They don't work otherwise.

This set was highly educational, hop wise. O Brother really makes excellent use of their ingredients and everything they put in is right there to be tasted. Not every brewery does that.