A special edition ‘Versus Battle’, with not two but three double IPAs being thrown into the ring to battle it out stylistically. Two of the battlers reign from South Australia and one ring-in from Victoria. The style guidelines for the Double IPA have been added to the bottom of the article.
The Clare Valley IIPA is a part of their limited release range and weighs in at 8.1 percent ABV. IPAs seem to be Clare Valley focal point at the moment, with a red, black, core range and double IPA being produced within the space of a year.
Blackmans are a Victorian based brewery, with a couple of venues pouring their own beers. Blackmans refers to the last name of the owners and the Angry Reg too is a limited released, canned on the 15/02/18.
The Pirate Life IIPA needs no introduction, being arguably their flag ship beer. This double IPA has won numerous gold medals and has undergone a couple of recipe tweaks over the years to add even more hops.
Before reading the analysis just remember a few things. Firstly, most brewers don’t necessarily brew their beers to match the style perfectly. Therefore, if they don’t win gold medals, it doesn’t necessarily mean their beers are bad, but however don’t 100 percent match the style guidelines. Secondly, these beers are brought from bottle shops and are not all the freshest examples of the beer. The versus battle is only fair if all beers are bought from a shop, rather than gifted to me through beer mail and while dates are checked and the freshest examples are sort after, this is not always the case.
Enough introductions, it is time to battle.
Who will win?
|Style Factors||Clare Valley
|Blackmans Angry Reg
|Aroma||Sweet malt aromas are definitely a driving force. Subtle pine and citrus hop is present but not dominant. Some fruity esters also in the background.||Huge pine smells, paired with some stone fruit lifted by a biscuit, sticky malt sweetness. Hop driven for sure with the malt only playing a supporting part.||Best before date states 12/10/18 but seems to be a tad oxidised. Even though before, best before date, hop aroma is missing with only esters rising from the glass||
|Appearance||Super clear in appearance. Taking on a light copper or burnt orange colour. A small, fast dissipating white head||Deep orange in colour. Slightly hazy, with a small, persistent slightly off white head.||Deep orange in appearance. A slight haze but definitely not NEIPA style. A very persistent white fluffy head||
|Flavour||The malt sweetness and hop flavours meet in the middle and balance out quite well. Quite a big alcohol burn at the end. Grass and citrus hop flavour are matched in with a tad caramel, bready malt sweetness.||Again, the hop shine through dominating the first mouthful. Pine is the prominent flavour. Tending towards the sweeter side but not a full on sweetness. Slightly chewy. The foretaste is balanced nicely however, quite a bitter after linger which is acceptable in this style.||Some punchy hops start off but are not dominant. Some piney, resinous hop flavours, alongside some biscuit, grainy malts. Definitely tasted better fresher. The bitterness is strong without being over powering. Quite a dry version, rather than sweet.||
|Mouthfeel||Medium to full mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Finishes quite sweet as well.||Medium mouthfeel, quite light considering the percentage alcohol. On the higher end of medium carbonation||Medium to full mouthfeel. A tad bit of alcohol burn but acceptable. Medium to medium-full carbonation.||
|The King’s Opinion||Quite a nice IIPA, but probably prefer a little more from the hop aroma. The alcohol burn at the end does take away a little at the end.||This beer was canned less than a month ago which definitely helps in freshness. The foretaste works quite well however, that after bitter lingers on a little.||I have tasted fresher versions that are better. Personally, I liked the first version of this beer before they altered with the recipe.||
THE WINNER IS…… Blackmans Angry Reg
Just because Blackmans Angry Reg won this ‘Versus Battle’, doesn’t mean the other two aren’t great beers. The Clare Valley IIPA didn’t quite match style due to its sweetness and subtle hop aroma. The Pirate Life nailed the appearance but wasn’t as fresh as the Blackmans, which meant the hop aroma and some flavours were lacking. Keeping fresh beer on shelves is a difficult mission for breweries and even though the canned dates are only separated by two months, the Blackmans presents a lot fresher. Congratulations to Blackmans.
Double IPA (Copied from the BJCP Website, https://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php)
Aroma: A prominent to intense hop aroma that typically showcases American or New World hop characteristics (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc.). Most versions are dry hopped and can have an additional resinous or grassy aroma, although this is not absolutely required. Some clean malty sweetness may be found in the background. Fruitiness, either from esters or hops, may also be detected in some versions, although a neutral fermentation character is typical. Some alcohol can usually be noted, but it should not have a “hot” character.
Appearance: Colour ranges from golden to light orange copper; most modern versions are fairly pale. Good clarity, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Moderate-sized, persistent, white to off-white head.
Flavour: Hop flavour is strong and complex and can reflect the characteristics of modern American or New World hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc.). High to absurdly high hop bitterness. Low to medium malt flavour, generally clean and grainy-malty although low levels of caramel or toasty flavours are acceptable. Low to medium fruitiness is acceptable but not required. A long, lingering bitterness is usually present in the aftertaste but should not be harsh. Dry to medium-dry finish; should not finish sweet or heavy. A light, clean, smooth alcohol flavour is not a fault. Oak is inappropriate in this style. May be slightly sulfury, but most examples do not exhibit this character.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, with a smooth texture. Medium to medium-high carbonation. No harsh hop derived astringency. Restrained, smooth alcohol warming acceptable.