I am certainly lagging behind when it comes to trying beers from some of the most popular craft brewers around, and this is something I'm trying to rectify. I only recently tried Dungarvan's Black Rock Stout, and fell in love. I also finally picked up a bottle of Alpha Dawg, the limited edition IPA from the Franciscan Well in Cork, after two months of pondering and assuring myself that it would still be there when I felt ready to financially commit to the only serving available - a whole litre in a nice swingtop bottle, at around €10. Not much to some, but I am only a student, and that means I have to do craft beer like a student - on the cheap.
Brewdog are probably one of the most recognisable craft beer brands around, with their distinctive packaging and apparent no-bullshit approach to brewing, but to be honest I haven't really been compelled to explore their wares. As such, it was mostly out of guilt and a strange sense of duty that I picked up two of their beers - Punk IPA and 5.A.M Saint. Besides, after watching this I find it damn near impossible not to like the brewers.
Punk IPA was the first up, and it poured pretty much as anticipated: slightly hazy light amber, with a thick bubbly white head that doesn't stick around too long. On the nose you've got a waxy pine note dominating things, with elements of both citrus fruit and peel, and a very slight hint of wood or caramel. Really, it's hard to tell when the hops are so forward. No surprises there either, then. The aroma is more or less imitated by the taste, with refreshing light fruitiness paving the way for a nice hoppy bitterness, with bread malt and clove hiding out somewhere in the bite. This is a solid IPA, and it went well with the mildly spicy fajita I had it with, though in truth, it's not really something to write home about.
Next is 5 A.M Saint, described as an amber ale. However, it's less amber than the Punk, and more a dark copper, with a nice fluffy tan head. The aroma at first seemed to be almost identical to the Punk, with pine and peel hops dominating, but after a while you start to notice that there appears to be a much stronger malt character to this beer, as well as a more potent spiciness. This is confirmed upon tasting, as caramel, coffee and liquorice make brief but effective appearances. This is the better of the two beers, and one well worth a try.
I'm still only learning to love hops the way many others do, because although I've not been the biggest fan of hoppy beers, I believe I just need to find the one that makes the breakthrough and gets me really interested.