Total Score: 7.6/10
Bentspoke Cluster 8 IIPA – this is going to be good, hella-moreish-awesome IIPA good. Apparently Bentspoke have pushed this already 8.8% ABV IIPA into IIIIIIPA territory [translation: each “I” in IIPA can be interpreted as an ABV level, with their Cluster 18 weighing in at a whopping 18% ABV – those are some cojones right there cabrón!]. Back to Cluster 8, I’ve been looking forward to this since seeing recent social-media posts of the drifter series cans of this, plus Red Nut has been the beer of my winter 2018 – I must have consumed a dozen cans of that already, and I keep coming back to it, so tasty! The hop bill in Cluster 8 also reads as my Top 6 hops of all-time: Mosaic, Citra, Galaxy, Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo [hell yes!].
Poured from a 375ml with one of those “the-entire-lid-lifts-off” tops that rock, into a Duvel tulip.
A: Cloudy amber body with a beige sea-foam head that slowly drops back leaving some tasty lace-work inside the glass. There’s something rustic about the look of this brew that appeals to the inner hop farmer in me – this is a real beer, it ain’t pretty, but it’ll do the job (well I suspect). 7/10.
S: Pure hop-gumbo! Piney/herbal/floral hops mingle with juicy fruit, spicy notes, hints of stone-fruit and biscuit malt base in the background. A delectable hop fragrance like this doesn’t come along often, this is sublime, I don’t know whether to drink this or keep it in a snuff-box to sniff at whenever I feel like a pick-me-up, brilliant stuff! 10/10.
T: Flavour is as expected, it’s a bit too muddled, there’s good stuff going on but it’s lacking the finesse of a KAIJU! or a Modus IIPA: Piney/herbal/juicy fruit from the start, mid-palate adds a syrupy stone-fruit and fructose dilemma – it’s a bit on the sweeter side for a typical (West Coast) IIPA, finishes with a potpourri note that unsettles. It’s not terrible, just discombobulated. After-taste is a mix of mango and floral character, sort of like a tropical punch. Yep, unsettling. 7/10.
M: Mid to heavy and syrupy AF – which doesn’t help with the sweetness in the flavour profile – and a dense almost-flat carbonation. Hop syrup here. 7/10.
D: What a roller-coaster. I was so expecting this to be brilliant with that aroma, but it fell apart in the flavour department. Based on the texture of this beer I suspect Bentspoke may have thought the keg recipe would translate directly to the can… I can’t think of any other reason why this didn’t work. 7/10.
Food match: Tropical fruit salad and potpourri of course!