Friday, 24 February 2012

Bright MIA IPA

American IPA 6.9%

As beer lovers, we have a tendency to try something new and interesting and, in the endorphin induced rush of new discovery, to declare it to be the Greatest Thing Ever.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone so please understand, before I make this next statement, that after first trying this beer, I went back and tried it again.  And again.  And again.  Then once more.  Then I went home and took pictures of the cat dressed as Hitler.  I then tried it again before finally getting a few other beery types to try it. And then I had it one last time for good measure.  So I say, without hyperbole or hesitation, that this is the greatest Australian IPA ever.  Now, allow me to elaborate...

Hyperbole starts here.  Bright are not as well known as some Victorian breweries like Mountain Goat or Red Hill but that is not for lack of quality, their alpine brewery crafts some really fine ales and a pretty decent lager.  Every year Bright hosts a hot rod show and over the course of several days, over a thousand hot rods descent upon the town, it’s a bit like Mad Max only more colourful and with more mullets and beards.  Watching thirsty hot rodders whose usual prey is a crate of Beam and Cola, completely obliterate themselves on pints of Bright’s Fainters Dubbel is a heart warming sight.

Back to the MIA, named for a misadventure one of the brewers had while paragliding, it first debuted at the Microbreweries showcase back in October, strange as I don’t remember trying it but by the time I got to the Bright stand I was pretty far gone...  The beer pours with a lively white head which clings to the glass like a curtain before receding to a substantial lace atop an orange body.  Hop aromas explode from the glass, a tropical punch in every sense of the word with mango, passionfruit, pineapple, melon and even pungent durian, but with a sticky sweet character, as if honey had been poured over the lot.  

A slick bodied beer, fruity hop flavours storm the palate like troops at Normandy with a big dose of sticky sweet citrus followed by bold tropical fruit notes of sweet mango and passionfruit mingled with tart pineapple and grapefruit, before the supporting artillery brings the rain with an intense blast of pine which leaves the mouth feeling numb and the palate refreshed and scrubbed clean.  The freshness and intensity of the hoppy flavours are exhilarating and the mouthfeel is spot on.  I simply cannot get enough of this beer and remain upright.

This beer is the equal of anything brewed on the US West Coast and is reminiscent of some of my favourite US IPAs such as Green Flash W.C and Racer 5. A truly expert balance between intense cloying sweetness and mouth-numbing bitterness, this beer takes it right up to the threshold, straddling the border between IPA and Imperial.  Bright would be insane to not include this in their regular bottled line-up.  Sorry Feral, the Hop Hog has just been dethroned... 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Temple Midnight IPA

American Black Ale - 7%, 77 IBU, Colombus, Centennial, Simcoe Hops

The return of Temple Brewing with their brand new facility in Brunswick in Melbourne’s inner north is a reason for all whom share a passion for good beer to rejoice.  Pilgrims to this fair city should not hesitate to head to Temple and pay homage before the altar of the brewing gods, sing your praises to the Saison, anoint yourself with the coppery liquids of the Special Bitter and receive benediction from the Soba Ale before finally prostrating yourself before the High Priest, the Midnight IPA.    

The Midnight IPA belongs to a style of beer upon which no-one has quite come to consensus as to what it should be called.  Many go with Black IPA, as the beers are quite hoppy but this designation is an oxymoron and therefore stupid.  A number of American brewers want this dark, yet intensely hoppy style to be christened Cascadian Dark Ale after the Cascade Ranges in the Pacific Northwest where a number of American Hop styles were developed.  I’m really not a fan of this name either as it is too much of a mouthful and difficult to say when drunk.  The Brewers Association uses the term American Black Ale which I find to be as good a descriptor as any but at the end of the day the brewer whom crafts the beer gets final say and when a beer is as good as this he can call it what he wants...

Tried on tap, the Midnight is blacker than all NWA combined and twice as aggressive, only with more hops than glocks.  It pours from the tap with a modest creamy head of similar colour which leaves a small ring of lace around the glass.  A really delicious aroma, a sniff reveals hop notes of sweet mandarin and passionfruit with a tinge of lemon while the new style of wheat malt from which this beer derives its name announces itself as fresh cut grass with a dry ryvita like character.
The Midnight is a medium bodied, smooth drop which slides over the tongue like velvet.  There is great depth of flavour in this beer  with a rich earthy character with toasty malt notes laying the foundation upon which sit the hops with a pronounced mandarin flavour on the approach which transitions to passionfruit and a touch of rockmelon in the mid-palate before a deep, roasty finish with a long aftertaste of rye.
A few beers of this style have been released over the last year or so and all have been worthy with the likes of Feral’s Karma Citra, The Thorny Goat, Kooinda Full Nelson and Prickly Moses’ Black Panther but I have to say, the Midnight trumps them all.  Somebody offer this on growler now dammit!!!