UK IPA Rules, OK?

IPA. No other style (with exception of anything shoved in an oak barrel for 6 months) sets the mouth of the beer-geek frothing like a good, ridiculously hopped IPA. Yet, whilst preparing my ‘beers of the year’ post, I find myself most impressed with IPA’s from good ol’ Blighty.

I picked up a can of Ska Brewing’s Modus Hoperandi (6.8%abv) when the weather was warmer, and took a break from mowing the lawn to sit on my newly-shorn grass and revitalise. Modus smashed me around the jaw instead; caramel-bodied-muscle and pine-needle sinews flexing in the can, a powerful bitterness that starts the minute it hits your lips and tracks right down your throat, and a nose that contains all the grapefruit-pith and lemon-peel that you’d want. Refreshing? Chilled, yes…but half an hour later I found myself wanting another beer as my mouth was so dry. I didn’t reach for a Modus.

It also had the sheer bad luck of being drunk on the same day as Oakham’s Green Devil (6%abv), a beer that, since then. I’ve tried to get my hands on as often as possible. If I could somehow rig a pipe from Peterbrough to my kitchen to make this my ‘house beer’, then I would. Green Devil is a masterpiece.

It’s beauty lies in its drinkability; the whole package is balanced beautifully. The hop profile is married perfectly with sugars, and the dryness that one wants – demands – of an IPA – comes and goes with elegance and grace. A burnished golden hue, the nose is full of Peaches, Pineapple and sweet Strawberry notes, who stick around into the sip, adding a friend in high, lip-smacking Pink Grapefruit/Lime bitterness along the way. The body is robust and ever-so-slightly warming, letting you know that as much as it may want you to think it is, Green Devil is not really a ‘session’ beer.

Put it alongside beers such as Kernel’s Topaz and SCANNERS collaboration with Brodies, Hardknott’s English Experiment, Wold Top’s excellent Scarbrough Fair IPA and consistently classy efforts from the likes of Magic Rock and Red Willow, UK IPA seems to be in a healthy state; and I hope that beer-buyers are looking at that before reaching for expensive imports.

Beer of the Year? Perhaps. Let’s see what the rest of the year brings. They’ve got a high bar to reach.

About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 01/11/2012, in beer reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. These beers still use American style hopping: citrus and pine. What about UK IPA’s in a more traditional style which are heavily hopped but “malt-forward with no real emphasis on hop aroma”? Likes of Colonel Williams from Brains. Well, perhaps next year…

  2. … and Young’s Special London Ale.

  3. Green Devil was my favourite new beer of the year. Perhaps the hoppy, piney, citrussy IPAs deserve a different name to the traditional UK malty, spicy IPAs? They’re clearly a style of their own.

  4. The best IPA available here in Virginia is St George’s English IPA, hopped exclusively with Fuggles and an absolute delight it is! None of this pine and citrus malarky, good, old fashioned Fuggles. You could call it a Real IPA, but some twit on RateBeer would get his knickers in a twist (strangely they say ‘panties in a wad’ in the US).

  5. Finally managed to try casked Green Devil the other week here – stunning beer. Oakham are really on to something…

  6. Yes I totally agree with your comments on Green Devil IPA, really excellent beer. It was my beer of Addingham Beer Festival this year.

    Also as an added bonus Craig Minto from the Fleece in Addingham did a live cooking demonstration and paired Green Devil with a lovely Indian Curry. Beer and food heaven.

  7. Lovin those choices Leigh & described like a grand master creating a fine work of art, bang on the money to boot. I still love a good old American IPA, European versions from Belgium, Holland etc too, but I think increasingly UK brewers are becoming those to beat with Hawkshead, Buxton, OffBeat SWB and Brodies also flying the flag so well for Blighty, amongst many others. Long may it continue

    • Thanks Phil; I just don’t seem to get that impressed with US IPA’s that much anymore. All the outstanding ones I’ve had this year have been from good ol’ Blighty!

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