"And the ship sails on, back to the North, through the fog and ice…"

by Katie Pizzuto on October 30, 2009

in beer

The cold that surrounded me as they hoisted me onto the trawler in the darkness of early morning, was a cold that stabbed at your head like shards of glass from a shattered beer bottle. It pierced its way through every crevice and permeated every pore of my skin as they tied me down to a mast and left me in order to attend to my soon-to-be shipmates. Fucking bastards that they were, they dropped one of them in that frigid North Atlantic ocean water and left him there to perish—no one bothered to pluck him out and spare him from an icy death. And then we were seven.

For two months they kept me bound there, as the trawler battled the wrath of the ocean that it dared to sail upon, beaten by storms and pummeled by 60-foot waves, surviving only because the beautiful songs of the killer whales were a source of lingering hope. There would be no surrender, oh no. Eight weeks later, I was no longer what I was when they first bound me to that pole—I was changed, reshaped, and yet somehow I was the better for it. The horror, the torture, the abuse, all served to make me the salty Scottish dog I am today.

IPAbottleI first tasted BrewDog on the recommendation of a store clerk who saw me staring at a bottle of Chaos Theory in the beer section. I was sucked in, I’ll readily admit, by the name because I’ve studied chaos theory. The clerk assured me it was worth the money, and even more worth the money was the smaller bottle of Paradox stout sitting next to it. “You’ll never want a Guinness again—I promise.” After eventually finishing both bottles, I was so enamored with both brews that I felt compelled to reach out to BrewDog to let them know just how much I admired their work, and that I planned on writing about their microbrewery. That email was met with warm-hearted thanks as well as, “please wait until we can send you a sample of our limited-release Atlantic IPA!” It’s the story of that glorious Atlantic IPA that you just read above—the first commercially available, genuine sea-aged IPA in over 200 years.

Atlantic IPA is not your average, hops-on-steroids IPA. It’s a wiry, dark, salty dog that only 2 months at sea can mold. It’s woody, spicy and earthy (I love those qualities in wine, so big surprise that I love this ale), and it’s got a bitter salty finish (not unlike peanut butter) that keeps you on your toes. It’s only available in limited quantities in the US and sells for $25.99 per 330ml bottle, which isn’t cheap by any means, but then it sure as hell isn’t your daddy’s Budweiser, is it?

IPAartBrewDog’s Chaos Theory, “a predictably random IPA,” is probably my favorite of the line. It’s a gorgeous dark amber brew that is, in fact, rather random. I’ve bought it 3 separate times and had 3 different experiences, each better than the next. The nose gave away the obvious IPA bitter, pithy orange notes but they were balanced out by a great sweet finish. Like many of their beers, it doesn’t give you much head, but then I’m sure a lot of you guys are used to that, aren’t you?

My second favorite brew is their Paradox stout, followed closely behind by their Tokyo stout. Paradox is a whisky cask-aged imperial stout that is easily the smoothest and most complex that has ever passed my lips. Cheap? No. Worth it? Hell yes. Its equally worthy brother, Tokyo, is a chocolaty treat that seems deceptively light for a stout that is ironically their strongest! It’s brewed with jasmine and cranberries added in the kettle, and then aged for 4 weeks on toasted vanilla French oak chips. The nose has incredible depth, with great hints of sassafras, and yet it’s not overly filling.

The rest of their line includes Punk IPA, Trashy Blonde, Zeitgeist, Hardcore IPA (which I’ve tried, and are all fantastic) as well as several others I’m still trying to get my hands on. While many of these aren’t readily available in US stores, they do have an online shop. I’ve been able to find a few of their brews at Stew Leonard’s and Gary’s Wine (both in NJ) not that it will help you much if you live in, oh say, Tampa. But it’s all about the hunt, ain’t it, folks? It is the fruit highest on the tree, furthest out of reach, that is often the one most worth plucking.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 castello October 30, 2009

mmmmmmmmmsalty beer.

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2 Elle October 30, 2009

Damn, woman! Only you could make me want a beer or two at 1:55 in the afternoon. Thirsty…

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3 Alexander October 30, 2009

For anyone who has not had the pleasure of downing a nice IPA, they are truly missing out. It, by far, is my favorite style of beer as the taste usually has an intensified “green-forest-flavor” from the amount and timing of the hops that are added. Most of the time, I can’t usually get a good one at the local store unless they happen to carry Sierra Nevada, which is, quite frankly, starting to become the Budweiser of IPA’s. But it’s still good and it’s pine-herb aroma will alwyas continue to set me off right.

I did have the pleasure of visiting Boston last month and found many pubs carrying different flavors of micro-brewed IPA’s. BlindPig, Mojo, RedHook, Harpoon…….OMG, I was in heaven. I even had a chance to stop by the Sam Adams factory and was lucky enough to sample THEIR proposed IPA flavor, which I found excellent. I hope they decide to go into production with it, because they were still unsure at the time.

I’ll have to take a trip to the local Beverage and Wine store to see if I can come across this stuff you’re talking about. Salty, huh? Peanut butter, huh? Strange. But so is the flavor of any good IPA. It is far from Pilsner. 😉

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4 Katie Pizzuto October 30, 2009

Must be a blood thing, Alex, as IPAs are by far my favorite brews as well…a lot of people don’t like the overly bitter hoppiness, but it’s part of what I adore as long as it’s balanced. Sierra actually came out with one called Torpedo Extra IPA which is REALLY nice. Try to track that down as well. RedHook is of course from my neck of the woods, so props to them as well 🙂

If I can manage it, I’ll bring some BrewDog down with me for the holidays…can’t promise the Atlantic IPA, but I can manage a few others!

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5 Simply Beer October 30, 2009

I love most beer and have learned to appreciate them for what the are or intended to be. The punk almost anarchist brewing attitude these guys have at Brew Dog really gets sunk into their brews. After all the flack they took for their 18%abv beer from the English government and social “watchdogs” they go and brew a 1.1% abv beer!

I’m gonna keep a look out for this beer. Hopefully I can find it, sounds good and even better story behind it.

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6 Katie Pizzuto November 2, 2009

I think you’ve nailed their spirit on the head: punk, almost anarchist. I’ll tell you what, I’ve had that 18%ABV stout (Tokyo) and it was an extraordinarily balanced beer…deceivingly light! Best of luck in hunting some down. I’ll reach back out to their distributors here and see what info I can find out.

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7 Sarah November 2, 2009

Check out Smuttynose IPA….definitely hoppy, but it’s balanced. I prefer it over Red Hook; not only because of the taste, but also because it is a small locally owned and operated (in NH) brewery that does a lot of charitable work. They also own a sister brewery/restaurant, The Portsmouth Brewery. They are known, among other things, for their ‘Kate the Great’ Russian Stout.

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8 Katie Pizzuto November 2, 2009

Will definitely hunt some down, Sarah, thanks! And a Russian Stout that’s my namesake MUST be tried as well!!

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9 Coupe 60 November 2, 2009

Hi, I just stumbled on to this blog, and it is really good… I hope to visit often…

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10 Katie Pizzuto November 3, 2009

Damned pain in my ass, Lou 🙂

OK, for those looking for distribution of the Atlantic IPA, it’s available in major markets which include New York, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. It is available at most major liquor stores. For online, http://www.Bierkraft.com has been selling the Atlantic IPA. However, for all markets quantities are limited since it is a limited edition, so hurry the hell up!!!!!

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11 Rainmaker December 1, 2009

The tittle come from an iron Maiden song, right? =p

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12 Katie Pizzuto December 1, 2009

Absolutely, Rainmaker…it comes from “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which was actually based on a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge!

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