I believe this is the 3rd release of the IPA is Dead series from Brewdog. For those that haven't heard of it, it's a single batch beer with 4 different single hop additions. So, each batch is split in to 4 and hopped with different single hop varieties. The malt base of the beer is the same and all the beers are brewed to 75IBU. This year they went with Dana (Slovenia), Waimea (New Zealand), El Dorado (USA) and that most classic of all hops, Goldings (UK).
Starting off with the maddest of them all. Dana is as mad as a former Irish Eurovision winner and politician. The aroma starts off very interesting with woodsmoke, stinky foot cheese, dried spices, alcohol and grass. Once tasted though, most of that disappears, only to become a beer that tastes a little bit like silage* with only the vaguest hints at the interesting aromas. Odd is the only word that can best describe this beer. Interesting, but in a very odd way.
With Goldings, I expected to be on firmer territory. This is a classic English hop, used in more beers than I can possibly count. An aroma of musty caravan, earthy mushrooms and a little marmalade on toast. The flavour of the beer itself was again, a little more boring than the aroma. Alcohol seemed to dominate any subtlety and fresh cut grass was the only balance. I fear that Goldings at this level are not enough on their own to withstand 6.7% of base beer. In a lower ABV beer, or more interesting malt base, they are rather fantastic though. It was nice and safe but after Dana, I was ready to jump down a rabbit hole.
On to Waimea now, and I was looking forward to this. I love New Zealand hops so I had high hopes for this one. An aroma of mango and other tropical fruits with a little spice, there was almost a tropical cocktail feel off it. On tasting, it sort of reminded me of tropical skittles both in flavour and sweetness. I have heard you can do interesting things with a bottle of cheap vodka and some skittles and I can only imagine that this is the beer equivalent. I did fine the beer quite lovely, but I just wanted a little more bitterness to balance it.
I was looking forward to El Dorado the most because I had read that it's the new hop on the block, the Citra of 2013 and I had a bag of it in my freezer to use in a future brew. I hate being disappointed but that's what I was. Aroma was lacking with only the barest hints of citrus and a little grassiness. Hoping that there was a little more bite to the flavour I took a mouthful and was surprised to be even more underwhelmed. A little orange pith, some slight mustiness and some pepper was let down further by a thin body. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the beer but the hop had been built up in my mind, a dangerous thing to do because often you are left with nowhere to go but down. A little like a certain British soap opera of the same name.
The conclusion is as follows.
- This is the dullest version of the IPA is dead series from memory.
- None of these hops should be used on their own, with the possible exception of Goldings. Dana especially should never go unsupervised.
- Brewdog should alter these to 5 packs with the 5th bottle (in the middle) containing all 4 hops in equal bittering and aroma additions to see what they are all like together. I get the feeling all 4 of these hops would have resulted in a very interesting beer. At the very least, Waimea and El Dorado are probably excellent when used together.
- I still love the IPA is dead series because I get to sample single hop flavours and aromas before I brew with them myself.
*silage is essentially fermented grass. It makes cows happy.