Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Weird Beard - Holy Hoppin' Heaven

Weird Beard is a great name for a brewery.  It certainly stands out from the crowd and I love their bottle labels and overall theme.  The guys from Weird Beard only began brewing last year and I have heard many favourable comments already.  They are one of the many micros currently springing up around London.  My first taste came in December when I purchased a bottle of Holy Hoppin' Hell.  This double IPA comes in at a mighty 8.5% ABV and I confess I was attracted by the name when I bought it.  I like my IPAs to be strong and packed with hops so surely this beer would not let me down.  Sadly I was a little disappointed.  OK whatever you do, DO NOT stop reading this.  Four Weird Beards are being reviewed here and this hoppy hell will soon be transformed into hoppy heaven.  So what was wrong with this beer?  I think it goes back to my last post when I compared Brewdog Punk IPA (5.6% ABV) to the Hardcore IPA (9.2% ABV).  The Hardcore was just too strong.  Holy Hoppin' Hell is also probably trying just a little bit too hard.  It was full-bodied but for me it had too many clashing flavours with a cloying sweetness competing against an earthy bitterness which quickly disappeared to leave very little aftertaste.  I am reliably informed that the hops going into this beer varies from batch to batch and the one I tried is the first batch so I will try it again at some point to check how more recent batches differ.  On this occasion I gave the beer a 6/10 so let's leave it at that and move on.

It was a trip to the excellent beer shop in Dorking, Cobbett's Real Ales, a couple of weeks ago that enabled me to pick up a further selection of Weird Beard beers and the first of these that I tried was the Decadence Stout (5.4% ABV).  Wow.  This was a sensational stout.  It looks great with a lovely bubbly head and it has a wonderful rich creamy feel to it which makes it slip down so easily.  There is a little chocolate in the initial taste but this all gives way to a roasted coffee bitterness that is long and lasting.  This stout is hard to beat and I would have to give it 10/10 as I wouldn't want to change it one little bit.  Brilliant.         

Next up is the Camden BearD.  OK what's in a name?  Well, Camden Town Brewery took objection to the name of this beer that was brewed in collaboration with the people at the Brewdog Bar in Camden.  For some reason the Camden Town Brewery seem to think they own the word Camden or perhaps they thought people would buy it thinking it was brewed by themselves rather than the good people at Weird Beard.  They should be so lucky.  I can assure the good people at Camden Town brewery that I bought this beer knowing it was brewed by Weird Beard and NOT by them.  I also take offence at any large company bullying smaller competitors.  Sadly, Weird Beard are a new brewery and could not afford the cost of fighting this in court and the name has since been changed to Kentish Town BearD.  As a consumer I will vote with my pocket and continue to enjoy Weird Beard beers and avoid the bully boys of Camden Town.  As a footnote to this I find it amusing that some Camden Town beers are not brewed in Camden as mentioned in a recent post from renowned beer writers Boak and Bailey.  Read here for details.  So who is misleading the customer?  

Enough of all this childishness.  What about the beer I hear you ask.  It is described as an American wheat beer which gives it a deep golden cloudy appearance.  It had a nice frothy head and a superb fruity aroma.  There was a slight wince as I took the first sip as I detected some sourness to the taste which I tend to find with wheat beers but this quickly disappeared to leave a lovely dry bitterness with strong grapefruit and orange notes.  The beer is hopped with the American hop varieties Willamette, Centennial and Cascade and it is dry hopped with more of the same.  The bitterness increases down the glass with some spicy notes springing up too such as coriander.  This is an excellent beer for which I awarded a score of 8/10.  If you like intensely bitter beers with a bit of an interesting twist then this is definitely for you.            

Finally we have Hit The Lights.  Holy Hoppin' Heaven this is without doubt the best beer I have tasted this year and, if you include all the beers I tasted last year, it would still probably come out on top.  It is described on the label as a mixed up IPA and it comes in at a robust 6.3% ABV.  It is brewed with the English Target hop and the Slovenian Aurora hop.  This beer is fruity and spicy with lots of peach and pineapple notes up front and in the aroma.  The flavours progress to pine with a spicy bitterness in the finish.  As you drink more you get grapefruit coming through too with more and more bitterness mixing with the smooth fruity hoppy feel which has clung to your taste buds from the first sip.  I adore this beer.  I must buy more of it.  There is no need to tell you that this beer gets top marks from me.           

That brings my Weird Beard taste test to an end.  I love their beers, I love their brand and I will seek out more from them without doubt.  I urge you to check them out for yourself.  You won't be disappointed.   


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