Sunday, 1 January 2017
Pop your head inside the craft beer bubble and find a trend more popular than the New England IPA. Hop-forward, pale beers dominated by New World hop varieties that deliver tropical fruit notes in preference to citrus. Low bitterness, full mouthfeel and, of course, lots of haze.
Misinformed detractors might call them the hallmark of a brewer incapable of making bright beer.
Supporters may have already forgotten, or perhaps don’t remember, that their way was paved by the West Coast IPA for a reason.
I’m into soft mouthfeel, juicy hops and low bitterness; but I also still enjoy assertively bitter, dry, clean beers that are packed full of citrusy qualities from those now not-so-new New World hop varieties.
All of this brings me neatly to Sorachi Ace DIPA from Gun Brewery. In a year that’s seen breweries trying to make hazier and hazier, juicer and juicer New England style IPA, Gun have stood out to me for making something far more classic than contemporary.
It’s a beer that’s quintessentially West Coast for me. Golden without the qualities of crystal malt, brilliantly clear, faultlessly clean fermentation, bone dry and assertively bitter. The malt gives a crackery profile that’s just enough to stay interesting without getting in the way - it's a canvas for hops to be painted over. And then come those hops: a huge, clear, precise expression of Sorachi Ace without ever becoming vegetal, leafy, oniony or dank. It’s like all the best bits were pulled out of the cone and the shit was left behind. It’s dill, lemon balm and pulpy coconut. Love it or hate it, West Coast hop or not, it’s exactly Sorachi Ace.
Nice one Gun, this is great beer.