Total Score: 7.1/10
So next up is Prancing Pony Pagan’s Empire Imperial Pale Ale… don’t worry beer geeks [myself included] – I did query the Prancing Pony rep about the use of “Imperial” instead of “India” in the name of this brew, I don’t recall the exact answer but it wasn’t enough to fulfil my beer geek/grammatical curiosity. In any case I was informed that even though it wasn’t mentioned on the label this IPA has a significant amount of rye in the malt bill. Now there is something you don’t see every day: A significant amount of rye in the malt bill that isn’t emblazoned proudly in the name of the beer (like some sort of masochistic trophy – if you ever worked with rye you would understand this) these Prancing Pony guys certainly do things differently.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: As is typical of a beer with significant amounts of rye the body has a red/brown tinge, overall colour is a sepia-toned brown, with a nice creamy 1 centimetre buff-coloured head. It is quite an interesting colour for an IPA (which generally present as amber/orange), Prancing Pony could almost have gotten away with calling this a Red IPA… but then they do already brew a Red IPA… so yeah. That. 7/10.
S: Fruity, piney and earthy hops upfront – as expected. Hints of a toffee, burnt caramel malt base and a lingering pepper note towards the background. It all suggests an IPA that is malt/hop balanced, with maybe a smidge in favour of malts, but we’ll see [or I will, as you’re not here right now tasting with me… though I bet you wish you were]. 7/10.
T: Dusty/earthy notes straight up – obvious rye influence… perhaps too much rye – it’s dominating the flavour profile on first sip. Hops are there giving a piney note, it’s really rye-driven this brew – pepper in the background. Other malts would normally give off a bit more sweetness, instead this brew dries towards the finish, which is surprisingly light in bitterness for an IPA. Overall this is a beer that comes across with more rye flavour than most beers with rye in their name! 7/10.
M: Mid to light bodied with a very creamy carbonation – it’s got this in spades, probably because of the most aforementioned rye. 8/10.
D: Earthy, peppery, herbal, dry, not sweet, not bitter; If all these things interest you in an IPA I say dive right on in on Pagan’s Empire Imperial Pale Ale. Otherwise, if like me your ideal IPA flavour profile sits somewhere in the tropical fruit zone (with a tiny slant towards sweetness) you might prefer DirtWolf. 7/10.
Food match: Mushroom based dishes to assert the earthiness of this brew FTW.