Flying Dog/BrewDog International Arms Race
I was enjoying a few catch-up pints with Andy Helm of Revolutions Brewing in Mr Foley’s last night, when Kirsty – other half of that scoundrel Dean Pugh – asked us if we’d tried any of the International Arms Race beers.
No, we replied.
Would we like to?
Yes, we replied.
Turns out she’d been gifted some and wanted to share. So,3 minutes later ,we were diving into the duo – after taking time to take in those gorgeous labels. I mean, really. Look at them. Johanna Basford has really outdone herself this time; if only Leeds’ civic owls looked as badass as this one. Gorgeous.
Anyway – onto the beer. For those of you who don’t know, International Arms Race was a competition between BrewDog and Flying Dog to simply create the tastiest IPA – without hops. Both beers apparently have zero IBU; and the result is two beers heavy on the spice, as that bitterness has got to be recovered somewhere.
Flying Dog’s version was my favourite (Sorry, BD); it just had more complexity. Over a base of toffee and caramel there was simply a tonne of botanicals; Andy, Kirsty and I notched up White Pepper, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Bay (lots of Bay), Pine Needle - and a lot of fresh, lemony Root Ginger. The mouthfeel was fairly thick, but not too heavy, and - dare I say it – I actually enjoyed it. This is a beer that lovers of Saisons and Wheat should seek out, at least to try – there’s a lot going on but it’s handled quite well. It’d make a brilliant liquor for steaming seafood in, I reckon.
BrewDog’s version followed a similar path but, for me, was just a little subdued. The caramel was much sweeter – almost too sweet – and the heavy ginger note overshadowed any other tastes/smells that should have been there. I don’t know what they put in it, but the overall effect was that of a strong ginger beer – great if you like ginger beer; not so much if you don’t.
Both beers were, however, pretty interesting and fun to drink; trying to pick out what’s in there before reading the label is perhaps the ultimate in beer geekery but hey – if you’re thinking about buying an IPA with no IBU’s and hops, then it’s probably too late to save your soul anyway.
Drink on, geeks.