Best artisan beer: Brewdog's Hardcore IPA
Saturday 14 November 2009
The BrewDog boys – what a piece of work those two are. I first arranged to meet James B Watt and Martin Dickie last year, in Edinburgh. They suggested Princes Street Gardens. I found them there on a park bench, well away, like a couple of old topers, swigging their beers from brown paper bags and raising the finger to anyone who dared come on all self-righteous. I joined them, and we had a riotous time. Did we vomit in the street and slump comatose in a corner? No. We simply drank some of the best beer brewed on this planet.
The boys established BrewDog in Fraserburgh, in 2007. A tough Aberdeenshire town, it was unlikely to provide much trade for a craft brewer. So they decided to promote a very non-microbrewer, in-your-face personality for their new brewery. And then to brew supreme, challenging beers with names like Punk IPA, Hardcore IPA, Hop Rocker and Rip Tide that get the PC brigade in a tizz and has even had the Portman Group try to ban them from shops. The boys, of course, love the free publicity and notoriety. Critics say their beers promote binge-drinking – but that's rubbish. They're strong, tasty and expensive. Hardcore IPA is 9 per cent alcohol and costs £1.99 for 330ml. Think how much cheap supermarket lager you'd get for that.
The flavour is momentous, like a stew of bittersweet Dundee Marmalade, the headiest of scented hops, and a thick deep malt that rolls across your palate drowned in a glorious foam of delight.
For stockists, see brewdog.com
Fuller's 1845 strong ale Brilliant now but shove it under the stairs for five years and it'll be even better.
Waitrose, 500ml, £2.25
Williams Bros Fraoch heather ale Ever wondered what heather tasted like? Or bog myrtle? This beer has both and tastes great.
Selected supermarkets, £1.70-£2
St Austell Proper Job A really pumped-up IPA from Britain's far south-west.
Selected supermarkets, £1.90
'Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book 2010', Pavilion, £9.99
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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