It’s been ‘one of those weeks’. Lots on, lots of challenges (yes, I know it says on my CV, and everybody else’s, that I enjoy a challenge) and I’m still working, Saturday afternoon. Head down so much I’ve clean forgotten about Jazz Record Requests on Radio 3. Thank goodness for iPlayer. Sod it, I’ve taken the Big Job IPA (9% ABV) out from under the desk and given it a chill, and now it’s been poured lovingly into my stemmed Castle Rock glass of choice.
Comrades Boak and Bailey, down the road in Penzance, opened theirs a day or two ago and I made the schoolboy error of reading their review before opening my own bottle. But I don’t think it’s influencing me. Read their thoughts here. I had the heads up, however, of attending a tutored tasting of the beer with newlywed Sophie Atherton at St Austell Brewery at the start of Cask Ale Week, where she was joined by head brewer Roger Ryman who offered sage interjections, along with a bit of background info.
What the tasting notes from St Austell mention which the bottle doesn’t are: a) the presence of Nugget hops, as well as the Citra and Centennial varieties and; b) and generous backbone of malt, in the form of Maris Otter Pale, malted oats and English Cara.
This, then, is an IPA that has depth of flavour and a great body, thanks to those malts. There’s a full hop aroma, but the Citra tropical fruits note is tempered, as it is on the palate. I think the Centennial and Nugget hops bring dryness and harshness to the party, foiling the normally dominant Citra, which works well with the malt, moving away from the enamel-scraping excess one would expect of an IPA or double IPA of this strength.
I find it an an engaging, very moreish — too moreish — beer. There are few clues to the high ABV aside from an alcoholic warmth in the aroma and on on the back of the palate that lingers into the start of the finish. In terms of the guts of the beer, I get notes of marmalade, but closer to the pith of the orange than, say, the juicy fruit. It’s easy drinking, smooth, going down too well.
The beer looks great. It’s deep, crystal clear golden with a lovely white head and subtle, inviting carbonation. Compared to other big balls IPAs it has less bitterness, but it has dryness — a subtle difference. It drinks smoothly and, to my taste — even though I love the occasional enamel scraper — is going down very nicely. Very nicely indeed. After a week like mine it’s a good job there’s 750ml.
Big Job, big happiness. It’s limited edition. Grab a bottle from the brewery shop … if you can. Other than that, you may find it at the forthcoming St Austell Celtic Beer Festival (November 24). Then there’s the one Roger has maturing in a used whiskey barrel…