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IPA. No other style (with exception of anything shoved in an oak barrel for 6 months) sets the mouth of the beer-geek frothing like a good, ridiculously hopped IPA. Yet, whilst preparing my ‘beers of the year’ post, I find myself most impressed with IPA’s from good ol’ Blighty.
I picked up a can of Ska Brewing’s Modus Hoperandi*(6.8%abv) when the weather was warmer, and took a break from mowing the lawn to sit on my newly-shorn grass and revitalise. Modus smashed me around the jaw instead; caramel-bodied-muscle and pine-needle sinews flexing in the can, a powerful bitterness that starts the minute it hits your lips and tracks right down your throat, and a nose that contains all the grapefruit-pith and lemon-peel that you’d want. Refreshing? Chilled, yes…but half an hour later I found myself wanting another beer as my mouth was so dry. I didn’t reach for a Modus.
It also had the sheer bad luck of being drunk on the same day as Oakham’s Green Devil (6%abv), a beer that, since then. I’ve tried to get my hands on as often as possible. If I could somehow rig a pipe from Peterbrough to my kitchen to make this my ‘house beer’, then I would. Green Devil is a masterpiece.
It’s beauty lies in its drinkability; the whole package is balanced beautifully. The hop profile is married perfectly with sugars, and the dryness that one wants – demands – of an IPA – comes and goes with elegance and grace. A burnished golden hue, the nose is full of Peaches, Pineapple and sweet Strawberry notes, who stick around into the sip, adding a friend in high, lip-smacking Pink Grapefruit/Lime bitterness along the way. The body is robust and ever-so-slightly warming, letting you know that as much as it may want you to think it is, Green Devil is not really a ‘session’ beer.
Put it alongside beers such as Kernel’s Topaz and SCANNERS collaboration with Brodies, Hardknott’s English Experiment, Wold Top’s excellent Scarbrough Fair IPA and consistently classy efforts from the likes of Magic Rock and Red Willow, UK IPA seems to be in a healthy state; and I hope that beer-buyers are looking at that before reaching for expensive imports.
Beer of the Year? Perhaps. Let’s see what the rest of the year brings. They’ve got a high bar to reach.