Hardcore IPA (Imperial/Double IPA, 9.2% abv) by BrewDog (Fraserburgh, Scotland). $8.50/330ml bottle.
A second round of redemption Thursday and this time around it’s the Brewdog Hardcore, a beer I’d had during last year’s world footy cup or whatever it was, apparently New Zealand won it and there was much rejoicing. At the time I described in my notes as “f…ing awful. Too hoppy, bitter, fruity and stenchy” but of course I hadn’t really given it a fair chance. It was served to me in a plastic cup – I believe I have elsewhere expressed my opinion of such an abominable act – and from memory I was coming off a row of porters and stouts so it was never going to sit well. And so, now, swollen with magnanimity in the comfort of my own home, I am willing to give it another try.
What it is, proudly, is a very intense beer. It starts off innocently enough, and pours a very cloudy orange/copper colour with a thin white frothy head that sticks around for a little while. The aroma is the first warning sign – potent, sweet, malty and fruity, not citrus but something tropicalish, or whatever is halfway between a grapefruit and a mango but not quite either. The taste is intensely bitter with a caramel/toffee malt flavour nearly buried beneath a vicious hop and alcohol kick, with notes of grapefuit, lime, menthol, perhaps orange rind and a host of other elements by turns pungent, spicy and sour I can’t quite put my finger on – there’s a lot going on in this; it’s anything but dull. The texture is more oily than sticky, and with medium carbonation it’s a surprisingly thin mouthfeel. It mightn’t feel heavy but I still struggled to finish this, and the long, lingering dry and puckering aftertaste doesn’t help. After all the Pale Ales and lightweight Pilsners over the last few weeks this feels like a bottled mugging.
Upon reflection, in a nutshell it’s hoppy, bitter, fruity and stenchy. I am finding it hard to believe some of the reviews this has gotten – smooth and balanced? What? Apparently there is fair variation between batches but this tastes very similar to what I experienced during that footy cup thingy. It must be said though that it states it’s purpose very clearly – it’s not an all-nighter, it’s not a soft drink, it’s not for the faint of heart, and it does carry an insane amount of flavour in a surprisingly light and clean form – it is certainly not syrupy or adjuncty. It’s neither balanced nor subtle, but it is cohesive and authentic. In many ways it’s a resounding success and you would be well served by checking this one out if you are after a beer that both challenges and punishes (yeah, they said that. Check the label).
You, that is. Not me, I’m done with this. This is clearly someone else’s cup of tea. But if you were going to drink this (you again, not me) turn off your Norah Jones and put on something abrasive, noisy and slightly unpleasant like this or this to go with it to complement the ordeal. I mean experience.
Verdict: Achieves what it sets out to do, I just wish it hadn’t. A for effort, C- for result. Intense, challenging and distinctive. 43/100.