Dubbed “The Original Export”, Old Empire IPA from Marston’s Beer Company in Burton Upon Trent, UK pours a bright golden-amber colour with a frothy white head that doesn’t last very long, but holds on as a collar and paper thin film.
Because it’s packaged in clear bottles, Old Empire IPA can smell a bit skunky at first when exported; it’s best to let it breathe a few minutes. The beer has a bready malt aroma with hops, brewed tea and lemon accents coming through as it warms.
Old Empire IPA tastes of toasted malts and honey. A butterscotch tone is countered by a strong dryness that has a grassy or floral tone to it. The beer is noticeably carbonated, but creamy and slightly yeasty as well. There is a wood character to the finish that has a slight smokiness.
Brutal IPA from Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon pours a hazy, rusty caramel colour reminiscent of many double IPAs twice its strength, with an abundant tan head that leaves a fair amount of lace behind before settling as a collar. This ESB-cum-IPA has more of a sweet, fruity aroma than a typical American IPA; like cherries in syrup with a thick, bready maltiness and a tangerine peel citrus note.
Brutal IPA is strongly bitter up front, but with a well-balanced honey-like malted sweetness. There is a faint citrus tang that gives it a bit of pop before going back to bitter. Unassuming, subtle and solid. The beer is fairly thick and heavy on the tongue like yeast at first. A medium carbonation eases it down and somehow it seems to get even more bitter in the aftertaste, but remains tame enough to prevent puckering or dry cheeks.
Southern Tier IPA from the Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York pours a clear, golden-amber colour with a sizable, frothy, tan-coloured head that laces and gets retained as a collar. This strong ale has a fresh and appealing hop aroma with lots of citrus tones including grapefruit and tangerine. There is also a nice honey-like sweetness that brightens everything up.
The taste of Southern Tier IPA is surprisingly sweet up front, with a toasted malt overtone. A well-balanced bitterness is followed by buttery, piney and citrus hop tones. The mouthfeel is creamy, with a medium-heavy body and little carbonation. A honey-like sweetness at the end masks the ale’s ABV.
Wells IPA from Wells and Young’s Brewing Company Ltd. In Bedford, UK pours a nice honey-amber colour, with a white soapy head that falls quickly, but leaves behind some nice lace and a collar. The natural mineral water that Wells IPA is brewed with comes through in the aroma, along with a malty sweetness and a decent hop backing.
The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium carbonation. The taste of Wells IPA is malty and bready, with a sort of metallic undertone from the mineral water used to brew it. I find it very dry, but not to the point of bitterness. I also note a certain peppery spiciness in the aftertaste along with a distinct earthiness.
Triple from Brakspear Brewing by way of Marston’s PLC and the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK pours a clear rusty copper colour with a creamy off-white head that settles quickly, but leaves a large amount of lace.
This strong ale uses a unique “Double Drop” fermentation process to give it an extremely rich and hoppy aroma with a deep dark fruit and malty bread character, along with pepper and vanilla tones.
The taste of Brakspear Triple is also quite rich. Malt forward with strong wood, cocoa and dark fruit tones, Triple is earthy and a bit like a brown spirit in taste. There is a very well-balanced bitterness. This beer is very complex, very rich and very satisfying.