BeerCast #69 – Spa IPA

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in BeerCasts, English Beer | No Comments

We’re back with another BeerCast heralding the majesty of British beer (as we’ll be doing throughout all of our podcasts in 2012). This time, we turn our attention to four highly promising IPA’s. The style we gave to the world has developed in every possible way since it soothed the palates of thirsty ex-pats – but today we concentrate on the ‘modern British IPA’. These days more than a few brewers are piling in the hops, which is something we tend to agree with. On the podcast today – Ilkley Lotus IPA (5.7%), Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop (6.5%), Roosters Serlo de Burgh (6.0%) and Buxton Axe Edge Double IPA (6.8%). Three of these originate in famous English spa towns, conveniently giving us a podcast title. On the panel this time – Richard, Shovels, Grooben and Stu.

1. Lotus IPA
Ilkley Brewery, Ilkley, West Yorkshire.
500ml glass bottle

The first working production facility in the town for almost a hundred years, the Ilkley Brewery began in 2009 on an industrial estate in the Yorkshire spa town. It’s precursor had become one of the largest in the county, supplying their trademark ‘Olicana’ brand beer (named after the old Roman name for Ilkley). It was taken over by Hammond’s in 1923 – but the modern-day version has restored a beery presence to the town, which is famed for the folk song “On Ikla Moor Baht ‘at”. Native Yorkshireman Shovels conveniently has forgotten how this song goes.

What They Say
“A gold coloured genuine India Pale Ale with hoppy, lemon and citrus aromas. This ale is complex, but well balanced and full of flavour.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Lemon and lots of apricot, biscuit at the end 8
Shovels – Peachy on the nose, it’s an absolute cracker 8
Grooben – Not as bitterly hopped as some but none the worse for it
Stu – A nice fruity session IPA

2. Southville Hop
Bristol Beer Factory, Bristol.
500ml glass bottle

Another historic tradition revived, the Bristol Beer Factory operate inside the city’s Ashton Gate Brewery – which had closed in 1933 following nearly two hundred years of production. The labour of love of George Ferguson, the BBF emerged in 2005 and were getting their beer onto local markets within six month of opening (trading then as the Bristol Brewing Co). With a ten-barrel plant, they own an old grain barge in Bristol dock which has been converted to a brewery tap (we paid it a visit back in 2009). Bristol may not be a spa town, but is a short train journey from arguably the UK’s most famous example – Bath.

What They Say
“Inspired by the amazing hoppy beers being brewed by American craft brewers this beer is heavily hopped, packing it with tropical fruit flavours and aromas.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Smells like a Kernel beer, classic grapefruit bitterness 7
Shovels – The citrusy hops really come though 7
Grooben – Aggressive bitterness, needs sweetness to balance it 7
Stu – It’s a good beer but a bit too harsh for my liking 7

3. Serlo de Burgh
Roosters Brewery, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
500ml glass bottle

There can’t be too many breweries named after characters from Westerns. Sean Franklin once said he named his new Knaresborough business (in part) after Rooster Cogburn from True Grit. Sean – who has since retired – was one of the vanguards of Yorkshire brewing, having established Franklin’s Brewery in the 1960’s – delivering the beer himself in a taxi he drove as a second job. In April 2011 he sold up to Knaresborough businessman Ian Fozard – and Rooster’s is currently run by Ian’s sons Oliver and Tom. Serlo de Burgh was the first Lord (or ‘Honour’) of Knaresborough, and commissioned the building of the [spa] town’s castle. The beer brewed in his name is amazingly rare, as only 57 bottles were ever produced (would that I had known that when I placed my order).

What They Say
“A big presence with a cornucopia of fruit flavoursharnessed from a blend of American, Australian, New Zealand and Slovenian hops. Serlo de Burgh is sure to conquer your tastebuds and leave a long lasting impression.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Awesomely balanced, light hoppy beer. I think it’s amazing
Richard – We talk about balance – this has it, it’s lovely 9
Stu – That’s a grand cup
Grooben – Classic tropical fruit smell and flavour 8

4. Axe Edge Double IPA
Buxton Brewery, Buxton, Derbyshire.
500ml glass bottle

Our final spa town is Buxton in Derbyshire – which boasts a geothermal spring bubbling up at a constant 28°C. In the summer of 2009, Buxton brewery began, using the equipment of Derby’s Wild Walker. They then moved the equipment to their new home, and began putting out their own range of Buxton beer. Their head brewer is former Thornbridge man James Kemp (Bakewell being only a dozen miles away) – and recently their beers have become much more prominent, with (and this must only be a co-incidence) a series of strong hoppy numbers and a mighty 9.5% imperial stout – the very highly rated Buxton Tsar. Today we taste their double IPA Axe Edge

What They Say
“Hopped with Amarillo, Citra and Nelson Sauvin, this beer has a pale straw-amber body, and pours with a full creamy head. Its complex flavours include mandarin orange, schnapps, pineapple, and juicy tropical fruits. It is warmingly alcoholic with a dry finish.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Passion fruit, mango and orange – a great DIPA
Shovels – It would maybe sit on you a bit after a while 8
Grooben – Very nice, although the flavour doesn’t back up the smell 8
Stu – Again, I like it but it’s maybe a bit sweet and a tad heavy

– (clockwise from top left) Richard, Shovels, Stuart, Grooben

BeerCast panel verdict
Roosters Serlo de Burgh 35/40
Buxton Axe Edge Double IPA 32/40
Ilkley Lotus IPA 31/40
Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop 28/40

  • Listen to the episode on Soundcloud here:

Please keep those comments and emails coming in, and check back in a couple of weeks for our next podcast. BeerCaster MrB returns from several weeks working in New England, and if he manages to bring something back we may stray – just slightly – from our British theme for the next episode. Otherwise, I’ve got a cupboard brimming with homegrown Black IPA’s to get through…

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