For my birthday earlier in the year I picked out and bought two ales that I would not ordinarily get. Obviously, with the memory of last year's Sink the Bismarck (see here) I decided that I would go big and enjoy something utterly insane again this year. So it was that I bought me a can of Wild Weather Ales' Skadoosh because it was a mental 11% ABV DIPA with a panda on the can and what more could anyone reasonably ask for? It's been chilling for the best part of two weeks now and the sun is shining and warm in the garden, though it's been a warm and dull day so there are few flowers out, and the perfect weather for such a mad ale.
A long day with the family doing not a lot but with a chance to have a haircut and even buy me some electric clippers to try and control the mess that is what I call a beard. Time to kick back in the sunshine that has threatened through the cloud cover all day, enough to keep things uncomfortably warm, and enjoy a can, right? Would you like to know more?
This poured in a way that put me in mind of the memorable Molotov Cocktail (see this finely crafted link) - syrupy and slow with far more amber weight than it really ought to have had, almost as though it was folding on top of itself like you see the syrup do in the adverts. But that wasn't even the part that made me stop and look again the most, no, that belonged to the rather strong bouquet of aroma that smelled not unlike citra and amarillo, though I am quite prepared to be wrong, a freshness and clarity that rose and swirled from the glass but not the can so much (and I did check both just to be certain). A stealth clarity that snuck into the glass without being detected like a spy moving into enemy territory during wartime rather than peacetime. Sneaking past the border control posts as they are carrying weapons rather than secrets. Plenty of bubbles marking the paths of thought and counter thought, years of training put to the test in broad daylight to create a persistent but not thick head. Alas, there is much yeast and though I am a new convert to the murk I have not yet poured the last of the can into my half pint glass. I need a schooner.
Tipping the cap to the border guards who have not seen this irksome spy making their way through the wire and the tank traps, the spy makes their way into the interior, bringing a spicy hit of yeast at the back of the taste, but the front of the mouth, like a tripwire-triggered mine to prevent the dogs from following too closely, a scent bomb if you will rather than something explosive. Decidedly warming at the start, as though the spy is carrying a thermal vest, with a definite hop heavy feel to it, again much like the Molotov Cocktail in this regard, so that the whole thing is rounded and heady, ready to take you down. Then it sits for a moment, contemplating how best to gain transportation this side of the border before making a dash across the ditch of a road to cling to the underside of the malt, then leaps out to make their presence felt with another batch of hoppy fireworks around the sides of the mouth. That yeast payload is then detonated as the hop spy makes a clean getaway down the back of the throat.
After that it's a case of tracking where the progress was, at the throat there is no sign that there was ever anyone there but, closer to the front of the mouth, that yeast bomb is still pulsing and there is a memory of the fresh hops on the inside of the cheeks. Maybe the guards will strike lucky and find a trail of alcohol, no surprise given the obvious strength, but then it's hop oils all the way, criss-crossing and preventing any kind of accurate telling where anything went or is going. I can sort of see where the name came from, it's a bomb into the swimming pool of your tastebuds but with a swimmer so good that once the chaotic initial burst has gone there's no sign of who did it and ought to be ejected from the pool.
I like it. It is powerful and well-honed, a bit of an animal but also soft and cuddly like the panda toting the spray can on the, uh, can. The strength of the alcohol actually plays with the hops and the oils and then helps them on their way. This is a case of the strength being part of the plan and well involved in the process of creating the brew. Like a well-trained spy who has the art of sabotage down pat this brew is the sort of dangerous, but knowingly so, brew that would couple well with pretty much any endeavour. I can see that this would be just at home in the depths of the cold winter, buffeted by the winds of a blizzard far from home, as it is in the height of summer roasting beneath the unfeeling sunlight. One to take to Mars if not leave behind to confound the pursuers. That head just won't quit but remains at a half finger in depth without getting in the way of the brew any more than to soften the initial explosion of hops. It does actually feel like a distant cousin of the Sink the Bismarck - as though this is the, ahem, more sessionable member of a great beer family.
An ale for most people, a strong one that people who think they don't like ale will enjoy. Willow took a few sips in appreciation before I pointed out the strength but enjoyed it and I think that just about sums up the true power of this fully operational battle-stat- I mean, double IPA. Lovely deep amber aspect to it, that catches the light and reflects it back at you and just looks warm and inviting. 11% ABV of a lovely journey that keeps on giving. It actually looks like the beer you see on those odd off-licence shops that want to appear more artisanal than they have any right being, the sort of look that the strange world of stock photos would be happy with. And the taste... This is what I like in an IPA. It may actually be better than the amazing Hardcore DIPA from Brewdog (see here) and that is rather saying something. No, I think it is better than that offering. It even makes me think that I could not have stout this week and that is a huge thing given how much I have decided I like stouts. No, this is a fine bit of ale, if you see it - get it!