A short time ago, 8 degrees had a sort of a face off between two of their new IPAs. The idea was to see which one people preferred and then perhaps keep the winner on. They were called Hurricane and Cyclone and as you might infer from the names, were different in that one was northern hemisphere hops (US) and the other was southern hemisphere hops.
Both were 7% ABV but as you can see from the colour, the malt bill looks slightly different too with Hurricane being a little darker.
The favourite from everyone I talked to and the overall winner in the end was Cyclone. Not that there was anything wrong with Hurricane but people found it a little harsher with cyclone being easier to drink.
I loved Hurricane and in actual fact I might have picked it as my favourite beer but from a commercial point of view I thought Cyclone to be the better and more marketable beer. Where cyclone was topical fruits and chewy bubblegum, Hurricane was a bigger bodied beer with a little more bitterness and overall just a tad less balanced.
However, I combined equal measures of both of them in to one glass and the resulting beer was the best of both worlds with a more balanced body versus hop profile. I'd like to see something similar done by the brewery and properly released.
What's more interesting than the little hop off was that these may very well be the first true IPAs out of Ireland. Most US IPAs are about 7% and the closest we have had up to now is Galway Bay's Voyager at 6% and that's less than a year old itself.
Of course, 8 degrees then pulled a proverbial rabbit out of the hat at the ICBCF with Amber-Ella. It was one of my favourite beers at the festival and was rather like an Irish version of 5am saint. At 5.8% it's closer to being sessionable than a 7% IPA though and I have enjoyed a number of pints of it since the festival, and many at the festival itself of course.
When the guys at 8 degrees do something right, which is more often than not, they do it in an absolutely brilliant way and one that leaves this beer drinker gagging for more. Well done lads.