Black Donkey Brewing blew me away with the first European Saison that I actually gave a damn about, ‘Sheep Stealer’. That is a testament to not only them, but Richard’s love of Belgian styled beers – which I am not a fan of at all. Their ballsy choice of style for their primary beer is something to be cheered vigorously. Richard doesn’t do the whole American-styled beers thing, despite the fact his passion for craft beer was massively influenced by the U.S. scene during his time there. So, when they release an American styled IPA, needless to say my interest was piqued.
How to give me a hopped-up hard-on; ‘American C-Hops’. That’s all it takes. So, when I’m seeing this on an IPA, I am one happy bunny. It truly brings out the naughty 12 year old in me. I get all giddy, & excited. It’s like being told by your ma when you’re a young Irish kid that for dinner she’s making you your favorite meal.
As excited as I was, on the label there was a set of words that instantly bring me back down to reality with a thud. ‘crystal malts’. BAH! I *hate* crystal malts in my beers. I just do not like what they bring to beers, full stop. They are my marmite (except I actually like marmite).
Hopefully they wouldn’t be too prevalent in a C hop beer, as you really want them to be the star of the beer. Cracking open the beer, it’s a ‘IPA’s of days past’ blast down memory lane. This is what IPA’s used to look like before those San Diegan hop degenerates flipped the script, the table, the world & the entire god damned universe. People like Ballast Point with their Sculpin IPA changed everything for me.
And in a way, I think to myself perhaps the left coast of the U.S.A. has forever ruined my ability to enjoy trips down beer memory lane for some styles of beer. It’s not the same as for example having a bottle of Anchor Steam, or say Sierra Nevada Torpedo where that first taste & exposure changed everything for me.
The aroma on the beer is quite nice; it’s pithy, fruity & everything you expect from C-hops. The color while a burned caramel hue, honestly it does nothing for me & reminds me of when Irish breweries started turning out IPA’s this shade while everyone else in the world was getting their rocks off to much paler IPA’s closer to the west coast style.
Diving in to the glass, the bitterness is tight, not too sharp. Then, fucking crystal malts appear & just ruin it for me. A big horrid mouthful of crystal malts. Just to be sure, I put the glass down, go get a cream cracker & some water to cleanse my palate & try again. Bitterness, yes …. damnit! Crystal Malts. I’m really not sure what the ratio of crystal malt is in this beer, but it honestly for my taste murders the ever loving shit out of this beer & the ability to enjoy it.
Maybe this is a memory lane I don’t care for, but I cannot get over that taste. Nor will I ever have an appreciation for its harshness when in the mix with those C-hops. Sure, there’s probably others who aren’t as sensitive to crystal malts as I am who will lovingly appreciate the trip down memory lane & be TKO’d by it, as it is executed. Just I wasn’t one of them. Fuck you crystal malt. Just fuck you.