I tried BrewDog Punk IPA for the first time earlier this year. This beer introduced me to what hops can do to a beer – and what an intense introduction it was! I bought a four-pack to enjoy at a summer pool party; halfway through my second glass I realised that I was in way over my head. I felt ashamed, and slinked off to a nearby bottle shop to purchase something more sessionable. However this experience steeled me, and made me WANT to experience more of these hoppy creations…10 months later I’m a proud Hop-Head, and happy to call Punk IPA my friend.
This beer was number 26 from the epic list, and is the old 6% recipe (I’ll be tracking down the new 5.6% version for comparison soon)
The bottle says:
The label is the typical BrewDog graffiti-grunge style, and with a bright blue colour and white text it pops off the bottle shop shelf. BrewDog beers typically have a clever passage of writing on the side of the label; on the Punk IPA label this passage is downright arrogant, verging on aggressive. I personally took it as a dare. This bottle of beer was calling me weak in body and spirit, more or less suggesting that I go enjoy a VB instead because this beer belonged to a world that I didn’t understand. I wanted to prove this bottle of beer wrong. Not only would I drink this beer, but I would also appreciate the depth, quality and character of it…take that BrewDog!
I served this in my BrewDog Punk pint glass. Fruity and floral hop aromas shoot from the neck of the bottle when the bottle cap comes off and the beer is poured. The head is thick and foamy with an off white colour, and seems to be everlasting. The colour of the body is hazy pale amber, reminds me of light honey. The bubbles are tiny (I have to squint to see them) which gives the beer a look of stillness.
The aroma from the glass is big hops; bitter citrus and passionfruit are the main characters. There’s a little caramel too, and some pepper. I also get a bit of honey, but this might my brain tricking me due to the beers appearance. The mouthfeel is soft and slippery, very lightly carbonated. There’s an initial sweetness (which I can’t ID) which is quickly overtaken by a strong bitterness. The bitterness creeps up the side of your tongue and punches you in the back of the mouth (aggressive indeed) before setting up camp on the back of your tongue, seemingly for as long as it wants.
The beer has warmed significantly, because I’m taking my sweet time drinking it. This is mainly due to the bitterness; it’s not something to be rushed. It adheres to the back of my mouth, and each further mouthful adds another layer to it which builds the intensity. I like it though, in the same way I like a fine cigar, allowing the intense flavours and aromas to occupy my mouth and nasal cavity. The aromas from the glass are still hoppy, but have turned resin-like. The initial sweetness has disappeared, replaced by an even briefer citrus tang. There’s also some more malts flavours starting to appear, and some creamy caramel flavours right at the end which have been hidden within the head. However all of these flavours are still just whispers compared to the bitterness.
There’s no doubt that this beer is all about the bitterness. The first time I drank it, the bitterness was too harsh (OK, maybe I was too soft) Now that I know what to expect from hops, this beer isn’t scary. I could still only drink one of these in a session – the bitterness lasts for ages and would only increase with each bottle – but I’d enjoy that one drink immensely. I love the mouthfeel, and the bitter aftertaste is something you can contemplate for hours afterwards.
You have to know what you’re in for, or have a high appreciation of hops, in order to appreciate this beer. If you prefer your macro lager, heed the text on the side of the bottle and close the door behind you.