BrewDog’s 5am Saint is reviewed by Chris Hall.
One thing that the newer generation of craft brewers are known for is their policy on ingredients. Once upon a time, brewers were limited to barley and hops sourced within the same county then, later, the same country. Modern brewers are no longer limited by geography, only by economy and their attachment to tradition. BrewDog are violently committed to making beers that use the most, and best, ingredients possible, and 5am Saint from the brewery’s core range is a great example of this ethic.
5am Saint is named for its ingredients. Five malts (Maris Otter, Caramalt, Munich Malt, Crystal and Dark Crystal) and five hops (Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade, and Centennial) are fused in a mighty red hop ale of biblical proportions, brewed to 5% ABV. I have previously compared 5am Saint to Magic Rock’s Rapture, and whilst they are similar in a hoppy, red nature, their preferred style of attack is quite different.
This is a red beer and it glows with malty promise. The bountiful head is a preview of what’s to come: pineapple, grapefruit, lemon, mango, and fruit and nut chocolate bars. It practically leaps into your mouth (at least it does for me) and gets to work on your taste buds, tenderising them with carbonated uppercuts of crunchy, refreshing hops. The multiple malts are woven into a single, ever-changing texture of crème brulee and caramel shortbread, jabbing at the sweet sections of your palate while the hops go for the jugular.
The finish is a lip-puckering, rip-snorting, thigh-slapping affair, which puts you in your place. You are not finished tasting this beer until the beer says so. Magic Rock’s Rapture is a big, flashy, explosion of impressive brewing. 5am Saint displays not exactly restraint, but a surprising degree of finesse and clarity for a beer with this many ingredients. Top tip: do not go from a 5am Saint to a regular cask best bitter. The difference in flavour is so staggering that you’ll be embarrassed you’ve settled for anything less before.