No this is not a tribute post to Sting. Although he did sing a couple of good songs I’m pretty sure he’s a bit weird. He may also be a vegan and I think is into some kind of strange sex thing, or is it yoga?
I spent the last week in Noosa, some time at the beach, time to read, and have a couple of beers. Finding beers wasnt hard, good beers were near on impossible to find however. It was the same old collection of bland largers on tap with the addition of a James Squires pale ale (the mass marketed one, not one of the brew pub ones) and Fat Yak. I now know that I do not like Fat Yak. I don’t care that it’s a gateway beer for someone, or its good for craft beer. It does not taste good. Its kind of thin, has a really shallow hop aroma (if at all) and a kind of harshness that suggests its stale. Perhaps the stuff I was drinking was stale, I don’t know but I do think its off my beer list. Id rather have a Carlton Draught, its fresh at least and not trying to impersonate another beer.
The bottle shops we a bit thin on the offering too, Coopers was my saviour.
So following that, and given it’s a cold October evening in Melbourne and not much is on TV I think I’m owed a good beer. Back to Message In a Bottle, a beer by Epic Brewing Company. This is Epic’s take on a historical IPA. This links into a big chunk of my holiday reading “IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale” by Mitch Steele. I like IPA’s, I like the books put out by Brewers Publications and from hearing him on the Brewing Network Mitch Steele seems to be a good guy who knows his stuff.
Its kind of funny that this beer and book have hit me at the same time, not at all planned actually but it kind of sits well with how I’m thinking about beer at the moment. Beer and history actually. Australia, like NZ got much of its early beer from the UK. This beer is a crack at a reproducing the early beers sent to NZ from the UK, the IPA’s actually, an idea I had a crack at a couple of years ago with a barley wine (that who knows was an IPA??), and an idea I love. Well and that beer got me a third place in Vicbrew this year.
However after reading the IPA book I’m not so certain that this beer is what they would have gotten in NZ from the UK. Well perhaps, it seems they started off darkish and progressively got lighter. This is a little darker than I thought it would be. And apparently they were hoppy as shit too, this isn’t, but they were well aged, I think this is, but not in an oak barrel. Well if they did they havent mentioned it. There is a nice spicy earthy line running through it.
So what do I think of this beer? I love that its a little bit of history. I wish that it had a bit more of a hop aroma, but I don’t want it to lose any of that aged hop and yeast smell. I’d like it to be a little lighter on the malt side, its got a fair caramel and touch of dark fruit to it, more than I’d like but its kind of a barley wine taste more than what I think of when I think IPA. But it does have that aged yeast and hop combination that I love in a beer, and at 7.5% ABV it all melds together kind of nicely. I would like a little more carbonation and body though.
So I’m kind of split on Message in a Bottle, not the greatest beer I’ve had, and I’ve had better beers from Epic, but with the story and the idea that you are drinking a little bit of history it stands up just that bit more. Would I buy this beer again, hmm? would I buy another crack at the same thing, without a doubt. Get this beer if you want to try something historical and different, not if you want a ball busting IPA, try another Epic beer for that.
I think I’ll have to have a crack at something like this myself, even though English IPA’s seem to turn to shit as soon as I try to brew them, still with Mitch’s book I have a few more ideas and tips to help me sort ot my brewing white whale.