The clocks have gone forward, lambs are gambolling in the fields – spring has well and truly arrived! As the days are getting longer, one other marker for this time of year is the return of our epic IPA is Dead Series, traditionally released when the sun has started to round off the cooler edges of the new year.
And this time, it’s something of a celebration – as IPA is Dead is five years old!
Yes, our annual hop challenge began in 2011 with four fresh-faced hops new to the block, including the likes of Nelson Sauvin, Citra and Sorachi Ace (whatever happened to them?). It’s great to experiment with the latest varietals that we can get our hop-crusted hands on, and let beer drinkers everywhere see the intricacies and depth of flavour different hops bring to the party!
If you’re not familiar, IPA is Dead sees the same base beer augmented with four very different hops, in quantities that truly showcase their characteristics. The base is a 7.2% IPA brewed with Extra Pale Malt and US Ale yeast, in order to provide a clean and balanced structure for the hopload that follows. And boy, does it follow: a flurry of kettle hops, and then a heavily enthusiastic dry-hopping regime leave each IPA is Dead beer at 70 IBU and with the hops ringing loud and clear.
So what are the four challengers this year?
It wouldn’t be IPA is Dead without a powerhouse from the States. Often used as a combination hop for American Pale Ales and IPA’s, Chinook can really shine when left to front a beer on its own. The main reason for this is that it’s thunderously piney, with a fistful of spice kicked up in your face as you lie on the beach. A true heavyweight of the brewing industry.
Supremely floral, this hugely under-rated hop is related to Galaxy and was first cultivated in the Australian state of Victoria. Initially given the same name as a certain Eurolager, their lawyers got involved and the St- prefix was dropped. Ella displays subtle notes of spice, but is fundamentally a truly floral bouquet, redolent of the Southern Hemisphere.
Pioneer hails from the hop gardens of Kent, and for those expecting something classically English, they surprise with an unforeseen blast of lemony citrus. Bookended with a herbal, cedar quality, these high alpha UK hops pack a pithy zing not often seen from these hop-growing isles. Grapefruits in Kent? Whatever next?
Mandarina Bavaria (Germany)
From the central European plains of Germany, comes something very different. A blast of tangerine and orange, Mandarina Bavaria brings a highly distinctive backbone of flavour. This is down to its parent – Cascade – and a frankly enormous 70% myrcene oil content. If equate Germany solely with earthy, spicy Noble hops, Mandarina Bavaria will make you think again.
So that’s IPA is Dead 2015! The overall thought behind the selected hops is to challenge preconceptions about the expectations of traditional regional hop flavours. Lemon citrus from the UK? Soft floral hops from Australia? A German hop that tastes like sucking on the outside of a satsuma? Changeups like these are what’s truly great about hops; it demonstrates their versatility and their individuality. And that’s exactly what our hop showcase is all about.
Also released today is the return of our vibrant saison, Electric India. Re-brewed as a spring seasonal, this beer – which appeared originally as an Equity Punk shareholder creation – retains its trademark spicy, fruity edge. A perfect blend of Belgian saison and US IPA, crushed peppercorns and heather honey are also added to give a genuinely unique beer, and one that is shaping up to be the soundtrack to your summer. With the balance of spice, citrus and honey, Electric India is the perfect accompaniment to barbecue food!
Electric India is also available in our UK bars from 6pm today, and is available to buy in our online shop right now.