Punk IPA, from BrewDog, is reviewed by Chris Hall.
When I were lad, Punk IPA was 6% ABV, we had hot gravel and chips every night, and you could leave your front door open… What I’m probably trying to say is that BrewDog lowered the ABV of their flagship beer Punk IPA a while back by a whole 0.4%. Considering that similar moves cause righteous uproar among traditional ale lovers, this understandably had hardcore beer nerd cocking their snoots at the Fraserburgh punk brewers. The truth is that the difference is minimal, and this is still a powerful piece of work in the field of tasty beer.
Punk IPA is crisp, pale amber, with a smooth, off-white head that sticks around. The New Zealand hops give off the beer’s distinctive lychee aroma, with little notes of mango, pineapple and toffee. The sign of a truly great IPA, at least in my mind, is a careful balance of power in its malt and hops. This doesn’t have to mean a fifty-fifty split by any means. Punk IPA starts out fast, sharp and sweet, with creamy, resinous, tropical fruit and fresh biscuits. This develops in turns to caramel, pineapple and lychee with twists of lemon and spice along the way. The finish is thick, sweet, sticky and dry. It’s a frontal assault more than a flavour profile.
The hops are in charge here, there’s no mistaking that. The Maris Otter malt does a fine job of holding everything together, but it happily takes a back seat on the palate, letting the tropical hop bouquet do all the work. This is a good thing. It’s no White Shield, Old Empire, or even Anchor Liberty. Punk IPA is an unashamedly modern take on the IPA. It takes no prisoners, doesn’t ask for your opinion, and leaves you gasping for more. Great beer has passion in it, and there’s no doubting that Punk IPA has passion by the keg-load.