There’s been a bit of a Beermack blogging lull recently; a combo of being mad busy and not having/doing anything that’s truly inspired me to crank out a blog post, I suppose.
A few things have had me on the cusp of picking up the proverbial pen…Sligo’s The White Hag Brewery making a stunning entrance to the Irish brewing scene and a trip to San Francisco’s new sour-haven The Rare Barrel, are two such examples. I’m sure I’ll get round to these at some point, as both are likely to carry on going from strength to strength.
This time, what has really got my juices flowing, is a California brewery who have been showing the world how to make 10%+ ABV hoppy beers properly. I mean properly. Fair play to you, Knee Deep Brewing Company, you’ve got me typing once again.
These guys have been going since 2010, are still pretty small (distro is only in 5 states), and know how to handle hops. To leverage lupulin. To…ah whatever, they’re doing good stuff, with these two total beauties especially:
Knee Deep Brewing Co. Simtra Triple IPA
Simtra is a beast of a brew. An 11.25% ABV, self-branded ‘Triple” IPA. Is that a thing? Well, if it is, this should be the benchmark by which all other pretenders are judged. Such a clear light orange pour, no murkiness, no floaty crap, it looks legit. The aroma is, unsurprisingly, a serious hop-overload: loads of dark about-to-go-off (in a good way) mango, grapefruit and pineapple, bit of ganja, some sweeter tangerine and peaches and then shitloads of pine resin; there’s a little almost-chemically booze note in there. Just to remind you not to drink this while operating heavy machinery.
In a similar fashion, Simtra’s taste bashes you all over with hops: all that dank goodness matches up to the thick pine resin. Great pithy grapefruit adds some zest and then more of that overripe mango comes through as it warms. More resin and pine needles. A very light smattering of caramel-ish sweetness comes through to help keep things a little bit sensible; none of the janky caramel crap you’d usually expect from a 10%+ ABV IPA though, this is clean as you like. The finish gives pine needles and grapefruit and that extra little bit of pure booziness that once again reminds you to take the keys out of the ignition of your combine harvester.
Knee Deep Brewing Co. Hoparillo Triple IPA
Obviously, the folks at Knee Deep understood that brewing such strong beers all the time isn’t the best idea. So they’ve recently brought out what I’m calling a Session Triple IPA at just 11.1% ABV. Sure, you could plough the fields all day supping on this one.
Hoparillo bounds into your glass showcasing three incredible aroma hops: Amarillo, Mosaic, and Citra. This pours a couple of shades lighter than it’s (slightly) bigger brother, coming out as a bright clear gold. Again, no murk, no floaties..it just looks so pure and clean. Stunning juicy mango and tangerine aroma (think of a delicious fruit cup), light floral notes in there and just a hint of that big ABV. The taste gives mango (not the dank sort, more the breakfast juicy kind), melon, tangerine and some bitter grapefruit juice. Interesting floral perfumey notes get in there and actually lighten things up. There’s the lightest touch of digestive biscuit malt as the backer; to be fair, the malt has such an impressively light presence and truly lets the hops sing. The big booze is well integrated (more so than in the Simtra, I think), you can tell it’s there but it isn’t harsh. A few pine needles come out towards the end, blending with the sweeter tropical notes which linger on the tongue. Simtra’s juicier, more tropical slightly-lighter brother. Top marks.
I was lucky to drink both of these beers within two weeks of bottling date, so I really got them at their best. As the Simtra bottle clearly states “do not age”. Just don’t, it would be daft. These aren’t going to get any better with a bit of dust on them.
I’m so pleasantly surprised and impressed that two legitimately huge beers have managed to forgo the usual “bang a load of caramel malt in there” tactic we so often see. I know lots of people are mad for the caramel balance, but I’m certainly bloody not.
Simtra and Hoparillo are two terrifyingly good hoppy beers, and I thoroughly encourage you to pull all the strings you possibly can to get hold of them. Fair play to you, Knee Deep Brewing Company.