BrewDog Pump Action Poet Stonefruit IPA

Total Score: 7.55/10 Peach1Orange1Grapefruit1Nonicpint1

Well, well, looks like BrewDog Elvis Juice has a new sibling in Pump Action Poet Stonefruit IPA… it’s no secret that I am a big fan of Elvis Juice, to me it is the best (and most consistent) fruit-infused beer. So expectations are very high indeed. A thing that a seasoned Elvis drinker (like me) notices right away is the higher ABV from 6.5% to 7.5%… Elvis was such a drinkable brew at 6.5%, my only concern is that at 7.5% Pump Action Poet might be a bit too on the nose [or tongue in this specific instance]… not the name though – Pump Action Poet, it’s another great brew name from BrewDog, hopefully they won’t get sued for this one… though that does look like Master Chief on the label… shhh, don’t tell Microsoft!

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Fairly hazed golden amber hue body with a nice white cappuccino foam head on top that compacts down to about half a centimetre. I declare this looks like a tasty fermented beverage! 8/10.

S: Fruity… stone-fruity. Peach and apricot rule this Pump Action Poet aroma! As advertised then. With notes of grapefruit, orange blossom and a thick biscuit malt base. Master Chief: “Reporting for duty!”. Wait, does the Master Chief even speak? I don’t ever remember hearing him speak. Regardless he has the soul of a poet I am now swayed to believe. 8/10.

T: Yep, stone-fruit for days – it’s carnival time in Georgia (the US state – not the Eurasian country). It’s a bit like an American IPA with some Southern Comfort – that extra 1% ABV does give it a slight spirit edge unfortunately. Other than a bold peachy character there’s a light grapefruit/orange citric backbone and a biscuit base underlying everything… however that spirit edge only serves to detract from the flavour overall. Still it’s good. Not great. Good. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied with a reasonably dense carbonation, not as gassy as Elvis, but then he did eat a lot of hamburgers… 8/10.

D: It’s no Elvis, but it delivers what it sets out to do on the can where it says “Stonefruit IPA” – it is definitely one of those. The whole spirity/SoCo vibe detracts from what could have been an easy-drinking fruit beer like Elvis. Elvis is a breeze at 6.5%, this is almost a chore at 7.5%, goes to show just how much of a difference 1% can make. However: there is a good beer in here. Oh yeah, not a fan of peaches, but I didn’t let that affect the score [I’m a mofressional]. 8/10.

Food match: This beer made me think of sashimi for some reason.

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Stillwater Artisanal Ales Superhop IPA

Total Score: 7.15/10 Coriander1Peppercorns1Pineapple1Nonicpint1

Stillwater Superhop IPA is Neo-Tropic. NEO-TROPIC. Get it? Forget that Old-Tropic crap – Neo-Tropic is the future of all hopped beers… Morpheus-Tropic? Maybe, one day, but it’s Neo-Tropic for now peeps. Viva Neo-Tropic! PS: There is no spoon. So far I’ve tried one other beer from this gypsy brewer Stillwater: Existent – it was decent enough, a bit Dubbel-like in flavour (less of a Saison as it was advertised), however it was nothing to write home about… even though I did write (at) home about it… as a review… you know, that thing I do… for 6 years now… wow, it’s really been that long? I’m still working my way up to the big daddy quadruple digits (#1000) too… only 88 more reviews till my liver retires, yay!

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy pale straw body with a nice 1 centimetre white cappuccino foam head that sticks around for a while… looks New England IPAish, perhaps that’s what they mean by “Neo-Tropic”? Just say “NEIPA” Stillwater – everyone else is. Sheesh, still waters do indeed run deep. 8/10.

S: Piney/herbal hops upfront mingle with dry cracker and a juniper-esque back note. Aroma comes across dry and spicy, a bit like a Gin in that respect. Hopefully more hop character comes through in the flavour because this ain’t great (or tropical) so far. 6/10.

T: Yep, my old nemesis: hop fade (BB date is May 2018 but no way is a year passable on a hop-driven IPA, sorry). Flavour hints at a lychee/pineapple past but the present is pine/juniper/pepper and a long dry cracker middle. Finish is medicinal herb medium bitterness. Aftertaste lingers with a herbal bitterness and pepper – reminiscent of rocket. Further sips introduce a tropical sugariness that clashes with that peppery character. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice sharp, dense carbonation that plays well here. Hop oils? None noted, happens with hop faded beers unfortunately. 8/10.

D: So less tropics, more juniper and spice. Another brew altered beyond recognition by hop fade – I’m going to have to get out to the east coast of the US sometime – I’m missing heaps of awesome beers and I know it. Still it didn’t stop this IPA from being pretty drinkable, just made it a bit so-so and lacking in hop character, what can I do? I’ve been avoiding reviewing east coast APAs and IPAs for this reason but I actually thought Stillwater was west coast for some reason. 8/10.

Food match: This is one dry/spicy beer, try a spicy sausage with mustard here.

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Blackman’s Brewery Loral IPA

Total Score: 6.85/10 Flowers1Lemon1Biscuit1Nonicpint1

Lo(ral) and behold! A new brew from those chaps at Blackman’s – purveyors of beers with people names such as Reginald, Ernie, Arthur, Mervyn and Angry Reg… he’s a bit of a problem Angry Reg (too tasty IMO). Loral IPA is one of their seasonal releases – a single hop American IPA showcasing that intriguing candy drop/floral hop flavoured Loral hop. I recently got a measure of this hop in Stone’s decent Ghost Hammer IPA and it was an intriguing brew. Bit of a speciality hop this Loral, and I look forward to finding it as a cheeky addition to beers in the future because its flavour is reasonably unique, and let’s face it – we’ve all had enough of the citrus/piney combo that has (admittedly) served us well over these many years but needs to step aside lest beer flavours become stagnant IMO.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy with what I suspect are hop & yeast particles floating around in a deep amber body with an off-white sea foam head. Not a fan of that sea foam head (you know when the bubbles are big and disparate – that’s what I mean by sea foam. Though I do like my IPAs cloudy. 6/10.

S: Perfume floral fragrance mingled with a solid biscuit base. Touch of lemon/pear candy drops as well – yep that soon-to-be-classic Loral aroma! The only major detraction to the aroma is how airy and light it is, but that’s a personal preference there – I like BIG beers and at 5.8% ABV I’m not expecting BIG. 7/10.

T: Begins sour/slightly acidic lemon, punches in some floral notes, hint of pear, dry cracker and biscuit base, and gallops towards a dry potpourri finish. You have to appreciate floral beers to like this IPA – otherwise you might find it a bit wishy-washy. Personally I think the flavour is good, but lacking just a touch of kick from the lower than usual ABV (for an IPA at least that is on the lower end of the scale). 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, lacking a bit in the body, with a thin carbonation (also lacking here). 6/10.

D: Cruise city this brew – it’s like Mervyn in that regard – maybe a bit too cruisy for its own good. Otherwise I didn’t mind this at all, not quite as big a floral hit as I recall Stone Ghost Hammer IPA, but still a floral hit nonetheless. If you want something just a little bit different than the masses of citrus/piney/tropical IPAs clamouring at the fridge door of your local bottle-o then maybe give this a go, otherwise it’s a tad hit/miss. 7/10.

Food match: Light salads or chicken based dishes.

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Green Beacon The Whaler Blood Orange IPA

Total Score: 8.2/10 Orange1Flowers1Biscuit1Nonicpint1

Top blokes (and lasses) those Green Beaconers… beaconites? Beacongians? I’ll go with beaconers. Anyway I’ve been reasonably impressed with everything they’ve brewed thus far – there’s been no weak links AFAIC – although I’m yet to try Half Mast which is a Session IPA, and we all know how much I love Session IPAs (they are anathema to me). That said when The Whaler hauled (prepare thyself for an assault of the ears by my nautical vocabulary) into view at my local bottleshop I thought: “Blood orange IPA hey? Let’s see how it stacks up against old mate Elvis (juice)!”. Yes, Elvis is his name and grapefruit, along with being my gold-standard for fruit-infused beers is his game… which is a convoluted way of saying “Game on Whaler!”.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: As mentioned in my review of Sad Rude Future Brew: GB really go for light-coloured brews – this one shares a surprising resemblance with a hazy bright straw body (word for word copy/pasted from my Sad Rude Future Brew review). Head is chalky white providing a thin blanket on top. Needs a bit of lace though. 7/10.

S: The stab of citrus from blood orange is unmistakable in its acidity. Notes of little else mingle with the blood orange… maybe a hint in there of orange blossom – something floral, all else is blood… orange. Erm, yeah, a touch one-note. 7/10.

T: Sweet orangey goodness me this is alright, I believe you’ve met my friend: A certain mister blood orange, along with orange blossom, mid palate biscuit malt which intervenes followed by dry cracker and a touch of pepper. Rather good stuff, refreshing as a glass of orange juice (that has strangely been carbonated) on a hot summers day. Finishes with a reasonably mild bitterness… this is sort of a New England IPA, but not at the same time. Still good. 9/10.

M: Mid to light, borderline medium bodied, with a slightly excitable and heavy carbonation… burps? I counted 3 on the way to writing about the mouthfeel. 8/10.

D: I hate when seasonals are this good – it means I have to wait another year to get them… I must bide my time, and I’m not a good bider – I’m more of a reckless, headfirst into danger kinda guy (in case you hadn’t noticed). But bide I must – as this is a spring seasonal. So what to do while biding… play solitaire on my phone for a year perhaps? Maybe go out somewhere and do something (let’s keep these options nice and nebulous)? Regardless this The Whaler chap is rather nice and worth your time – it’s no Elvis Juice, but it is tasty, and tasty is enough. 8/10.

Food match: Probs go a pizza right now, or Italian in general.

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Modus Operandi Tropical Contact High

Total Score: 8.7/10 CutGrass1PapayaMango1Passionfruit1Nonicpint1

That Modus Gadzooks! IPA the other night seriously made me crave hops bad (unfortunately I didn’t have anything in my fridge that could feed my craving so instead I went to bed without). Tonight I have its sister limited release: Tropical Contact High, also a New England IPA (or NEIPA for short). What am I expecting? Well Gadzooks! already was chock full of tropical-flavoured hops so yeah, not sure how they will top that with Tropical Contact High, but I really am eager to find out – I’m like a certain large, primarily nocturnal, semiaquatic rodent that is particularly ardent about wood, and I’m enthusiastic as well, so let’s crack this mother.

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy, not AF, but generous in its cloudiness, Jonquil body with a decent 1.5 centimetre white head on top. So far so good Tropical Contact High… could be cloudier for the style (if NEIPA is now actually considered a style) but it is pretty damn cloudy so I’m not going to hold it against Modus. 8/10.

S: Strangely more grassy and cannabis orientated than Gadzooks! (which came across more tropical in the aroma)… bit of name confusion there Modus? Apart from that there’s a hint of paw paw, mango and passionfruit – but the overall aroma is very green and exceptionally fresh and IMO (as someone who loves sticking their nose into a bag of hop pellets) better than Gadzooks! [btw that was an unintentional exclamation due to the name of Gadzooks!]. 10/10.

T: Bizarrely the flavour is an anticlimax. Wow, I was expecting a hop onslaught, but what I got was an almost restrained grassy/green hop paw paw/mango/passionfruit walk in the park. After Gadzooks! I was expecting a great deal more here. That said this mostly hop (with a touch of dry cracker and pepper) flavoured brew is no slouch either – yes it’s definitely got hops, but not in spades – which is really what you expect at this level. In the respect that the aroma is big, in-yo-face and amazing it reminds me of NZ’s finest hop driven brews – face planting when it comes to flavour. And as much as I like to smell a beer, I like to drink it even more. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied… hell I’m going to copy/paste the rest from the Gadzooks! review: “with hop oils doing their thang, and a medium-dense carbonation”. 9/10.

D: Gadzooks! is definitely the better out of the two, and hopefully it will get added to their core range (I hope!). Tropical Content High was still good (don’t get me wrong) but we’re comparing Gods here. 9/10.

Food match: Something Mexican with salsa verde… perhaps nachos.

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Modus Operandi Gadzooks! IPA

Total Score: 8.8/10 HopFlower1PapayaMango1CutGrass1Nonicpint1

Looks like Modus have another hype-train heading towards us – this time it’s 2 New England style IPAs (NEIPAs) in: Gadzooks! and Tropical Contact High. I wasn’t the hugest fan of their last one: Black Lab Milk Stout, it was alright, but really where Modus shine is with dumping a truckload of hops into their brews and Milk Stouts are not notoriously hoppy (or hoppy at all) so really wasn’t expecting a great deal from that. Why Modus decided to release 2 NEIPAs at the same time is anyone’s guess, but I – your intrepid beer explorer – am about to risk my liver to find out which is the better brew: Gadzooks! or Tropical Contact High, who will win the crown of ‘Modus’s best NEIPA’?

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Follows one of the number 1 rules in the NEIPA handbook: “Be cloudy AF”, check Gadzooks! Extremely low attenuated, almost opaque, orange sunrise coloured body with a thin white head that leaves a minimal amount of sticky lace on the side of the glass… look I’m a bit biased being a lover of cloudy beers. 9/10.

S: Pineapple, paw paw, jack fruit and lychee upfront and in yo grill (in a good way). There’s a grassy note in there as well. Yet again you can smell that Modus have dumped loads of hops into this – it’s crammed with hop character. There’s almost no way of picking up malt aroma amongst this cacophony of hops – but I care not in the slightest – I came for hops, and hops Modus have provided [in hops we trust]. 9/10.

T: Grassy and green upfront leading into those tropical characters (pineapple, paw paw, jack fruit, lychee) then it gets a touch earthy, follows through to light biscuit malt base and finishes with a light(ish) bitterness and a herbal kiss. This is one raw-green hop brew – fresh hops all over the shop. Not as sweet as other Aussie NEIPAs I’ve tried lately (3 Ravens Juicy is a bit sweeter), but the focus on hop character in this one is to be commended – it’s hoptastic! [wow, that sounded less cheesy in my head, sorry]. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied with hop oils doing their thang, and a medium-dense carbonation. 9/10.

D: Look it’s hard to go past Modus Operandi Gadzooks! As far decent Aussie NEIPAs go this is a Rolls Royce – expensive (oh so expensive!) but refined, beautiful, and full of hops (if you buy your Rolls Royces from millionaire hop farmers. Which I do). Tasty AF, and I’m looking forward to Tropical Contact High. 8/10.

Food match: Green papaya salad, or Vietnamese noodle salad (Bún Bò Xào).

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Newstead Brewing Two to the Valley

Total Score: 6.85/10 PapayaMango1Peach1Passionfruit1Nonicpint1

Free Newstead to review + me = can’t complain. So this is their new and improved for the can recipe which changes a few things that the rep told me about (hops maybe?) anyway I forget. Apparently named after some piss-up fight between US and Aussie troops in WW2 in Fortitude “The” Valley, Brisbane [this is ironically an American IPA then]. Say what you will about Newstead; their can marketing looks similar to close rival Green Beacon’s, their six packs looked similar to James Squire’s, their beers are generally lacking in flavour… at least they’re making a name for Brisbane as a great brewing city in Australia, opening up their new brewery across from the XXXX brewery in Milton takes balls too I guess.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Amber body with a hint of haze, rowdy 2 centimetre off-white sea foam head that drops back to a billowy blanket on top. Personally I like a bit more cloudiness in my IPAs but this brew is par for the course. 7/10.

S: Stone fruit hops, touch of tropical note in there (papaya), hint of passionfruit, solid biscuit base and a light spot of floral character. It’s an interesting aroma, bit all over the shop (in a good way). Actually was expecting this to be a bit boring like their Out & a Bout Pale Ale, but this aroma suggests otherwise. 8/10.

T: Definitely more on the fruity side of the IPA spectrum: Papaya, stone fruit (nectarine), passionfruit, some biscuit malt sweetness, and a grassy note towards the finish. Weird though is the sharp medicinal herb bitterness that comes in from the after taste and blindsides my tongue like some sort of an unexpected habanero – WTF Newstead?!? I thought that we were friends. This flavour suggests to me something unexpected in the first can batch – maybe they’ll fix it. As it is – it’s very distracting. 6/10.

M: Mouthfeel is decent though – medium bodied with a flat but dense carbonation that screams “pub crawl!”. 8/10.

D: What a mixed bag of wet cats this brew is – aroma hits well, flavour starts out alright, but damn that after taste is waaay too sharp in its bitterness… I reckon they haven’t perfected the recipe enough for cans – or they’ve boiled the hops too long… either way there’s promise wrapped up in a technical hurdle with Two to the Valley, and I really hope they get this sorted and move on (even though I am a Green Beacon man). I’ll have to try this again in future. 7/10.

Food match: Something spicy, kung pao chicken – George likes his chicken spicy.

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