Monday, 16 July 2012

Beer Review
Summer Wine Brewery - Maelstrom 9.0%

Maelstrom, a powerful whirlpool, a large swirling body of water with considerable downdraft. You may have noticed that I like a definition, dictionary or otherwise, and also like an interesting beer name and Summer Wine have given me another to conjure with.
A double IPA is a bigger, hoppier version of a standard IPA. It's one of those descriptive styles that is used to conjure an image in the head too. The US 'Beer Judge Certification Panel' style guidelines of 2008 description (and that of all IPAs) can be found here but generally it's an IPA in excess of 7.5% although as it states, 'Imperial', 'Extra' or 'Extreme' are also valid. I've yet to knowingly have an IPA which describes itself as 'Extreme' but it's something I'd quite like to experience - maybe!
Back to the Maelstrom.
It pours a beautiful orange-amber with a fluffy off-white head that fades to a pleasant bubbly but sustained disc. Tangerine and cough-candy aromas are the first to register but there is a definite resinous tartness lurking at the rear. Surprisingly smooth and silky over the tongue, initial light tangerine coupled with dense oily grapefruit is pushed through firmly by some wet wood and biting resin which reminds me a little of myrrh in its bitter spiciness. This becomes increasingly bitter and more dense before evaporating into wonderous but intense citrus peel finish that has a little tobacco smoke edge.
Make no mistake, this is a big beer and even though the flavours are big at no point does the alcohol really become apparent. This is also definitely a different double IPA to others I have had. It's certainly big on hops, Columbus, Warrior, Simcoe and Centennial in this case, but whether it's the best double IPA I've had I'm not so sure. However, it certainly is a very good beer and one that I'd have again, and recommend if you've not tried it.


  1. You've tasted myrrh? Can't top that.

    1. Myrrh has a real resinous spicy bitterness if taken orally (but not in large doses) and that's the closest I could get to what I was tasting. It's almost an unpleasant pleasntness if you know what I mean.