There's little more satisfying or mouth watering than a New World IPA with a citrus fruit-conjuring hop bill, and what better way to get around the tricky business of selecting the right hops for the profile than to just chuck in some of the fruit itself?
Beavertown's hoppy fare has yet to make the staggering impression on me that it seems to have done for others, but their latest entry in my notebook certainly bodes well. A reasonably fresh, canned IPA with blood orange? Count me in.
Bloody 'Ell is the name, and being fruity is its game. If the development and appearance of a punchy, fruity hop aroma was a race, this beer would have launched its aromatics directly into your face about half an hour before anyone thought of raising a starter pistol. Peel and pith of lemon is dominant over orange, despite what the name says, with a little bit of Full Irish about it. The palate is hmm, delivering nice bittersweet orange with a decent zestiness but a short, quick finish takes it all away before I've had the chance to get too excited. The explosion of sharp, zingy fruit that one might have expected just doesn't come. Though I'd be happy to have it again, I don't think the beer justifies its price or gets good value for its 7.2% ABV.
The problem with Beavertown is that it's somebody else's Eight Degrees or Galway Bay Brewery; by the time it gets to us, the freshness has been at least slightly dampened and, perhaps more importantly, the price has been inflated. When we feel like the kind of beer Beavertown makes, we have Eight Degrees or Galway Bay.
Going even further away and becoming even less fresh, we get to Odell. To be fair, three months isn't the worst turnaround for a US beer in Ireland, and Odell's IPA is a sure fire winner even after the journey across the Atlantic, so I wasn't about to write Tree Shaker off.
Tree Shaker is an 'imperial peach IPA' (god, not another one of those) of 8%, and it gloops an alarming amount of floating stuff into the glass. A quick Google tells me that a lot of other people have had the same experience from the bottle, with one commenter anecdotally stating they'd confirmed with the brewer that the sediment is peach and is common in the bottled form. Hmm.
It certainly doesn't smell infected; on the contrary, it's a pretty clean concoction of sweet caramel, orange and some vague grapefruit background noise. It is fruity, but if I say I'm smelling peach I may just be succumbing to the label's suggestion. The beer's entry on the official website only claims a measly 48 IBUs, so it's not surprising that there isn't much in the way of bitterness. Instead you get a fairly thick and heavy beer with lemon curd, lemon cheesecake and sweet caramel biscuit. Again I'm tempted to say there's peach, but my hesitation to nail it down should tell you that there isn't really enough to write it on the label.
Its warmth and heft is oddly satisfying, but like the Beavertown it fails to justify the price.
When I'm next after a fruity hop fix I think I'll be sticking to brewers closer to home, added fruit or no.