Last night Edinburgh’s local gypsy brewer Robert Knops unveiled the first bottles of his newest beer – Knops IPA – in a WWE style head to head contest against three flash opponents from the USA. The Smackdown pitted each of his bottled offerings with a similar (as much as possible) beer from across the pond – which is always an interesting process, even if the intention was not to directly copy another product. Ash from Appellation Wines was the ringmaster, and as Robert strode into the ring, all eyes turned to the beers in his corner…
First on the card, Knops California Common squared up against the Big Daddy of the style – Anchor Steam. Looking confident having owned the term Steam Beer for decades – and seen off many challengers – the American opened up with a sweet caramel malt introduction, before following with a crisp hop finish. Rob’s version came out of the blocks a tad sweeter, more fudgelike, bamboozling the Anchor with a touch more carbonation. Both tried to get the upper hand as the round drew to a close, but it went to a points decision.
The Result – a good showing from the local entrant. However, the crisp edge to the incumbent sees a narrow points victory. Winner – Anchor Steam.
As Ash’s glamorous assistant Blair departed with the board for Round 2, it was time for the heavyweight battle of the evening – Knops Musselburgh Broke against Odell 90/-. The American rolled into the ring bringing 5.3% of rich, treacley malt – looking as if it would ride all over the Scottish challenger. But Musselburgh went for broke with a brown sugar and toffee caramel move, before a decisive one-two of carbonation and a chocolate edge had the lumbering 90/- on the ropes.
The Result – finding the Odell’s weakness, the challenger nimbly sidestepped the sweet richness to win by a wide margin. Winner – Musselburgh Broke
Once the wolf-whistles for Blair had died away, the top billing had arrived. Goose Island IPA against Knops IPA. A winner takes all hopslam. In the red corner – the American. Experienced, swaggering, and with a new trainer recently arrived on the team. In the blue – a brand new beer, only recently bottled, from a man brewing on rented time in Stirling. Goose Island opened with a fizzy, lemon sherbet aroma, with a creamy palate and a bitter, hop finish. There was a slight weakness – the slightly soapy edge to the hops – that Knops IPA looked to exploit.
As the challenger came out, it was with a total blindside – a sweet caramel aroma. Little hop on the nose was a major surprise for the behemoth-backed US IPA. The surprises continued – sweet, toasty, slightly woody notes – before the hops arrived as a subtle choke hold at the end of the combo. Playing the long game, the 40 IBU’s sought to give the Knops entrant a sessionability the Goose Island could never hope for. Utterly incomparable, the two beers grappled to a stalemate, before retiring, swathed in condensation, to their respective chiller cabinets.
The Result – Very tough to call, as both are so different. Goose Island is the trash talking top hat-wearing preening type. Knops IPA the traditional Saturday afternoon Queensbury Rules nothing-below-the-belt offering. Winner – a convenient Draw
…rumours spread around the Appellation Arena of a winner takes all rumble between an as-yet untrained Knops Porter and Three Floyds Darklord. We stress these are, at this stage, unconfirmed.