September 21, 2012 | Beer, Reviews

Brewdog International Arms Race

Brewdog International Arms Race photo

Earlier this year, both Brewdog and Flying Dog decided to have a friendly competition between the two companies. The two breweries agreed upon a set of ingredients — spearmint, by leaves, rosemary, juniper berries and elderflower — in their respective tasks of creating what they dubbed as a “Zero IBU IPA.” Having sampled both interpretations of the ingredients last night, I can say that neither contains any IBUs, but then again, neither is really an IPA. Both come across more as gruits, or herbed ales, of which I’ve only knowingly had twice (Brasserie Dupont Posca Rustica and Fraoch Heather Ale). Let’s find out how these cross-Atlantic contemporaries did.

So as to not give Flying Dog too much of a home field advantage, I had a coin flip to determine who got to go first. Sctoland’s Brewdog one the toss and shot the first volley over the bow of Flying Dog’s destroyer with their version of the beer. Loaded with a good amount of juniper berry throughout the beer in both the nose and flavor, their entry into the Arms Race was more traditional in terms of what I know of gruits. That’s a bit odd giving that characterization to a company known for being anything but traditional, but it is what it is.

Appearance

The beer pours a medium amber in color with a light tan head that fell fairly quickly to a sparse surface cover.

Aroma

There’s not denying that this brew is made with juniper berries as it dominates the nose. Hints of bay leaf and rosemary are in the mix as well, but the juniper demands your full attention.

Taste

With an aroma packed full of juniper like this beer is, it’s not nearly as “ginny” as I was expecting. There’s still a healthy presence of berries within this beer. I like the spearmint that come through and lingers within the herbal and slightly drying finish. There’s a touch of caramel malt and a moderate sweetness to accompany the adjuncts. The 7.5% ABV isn’t present in the flavors, but does leave a light, glowing warmth in the chest. The beer does have a light level of bitterness, but it’s more tart than anything else.

Overall

I’m not what one would call a gin drinker, so the I was a bit hesitant about both of these breweries offerings after learning that juniper berries were going to play a large role in their making. I can happily say, however, that the amount of juniper within Brewdog’s entry isn’t overwhelming and does allow the herbal qualities of the beer come through. This isn’t the easiest drinking beer, but it has good flavor and I enjoyed it nonetheless. But how does it stand up to it’s opponent’s Zero IBU IPA?

Rating: 3.5/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery (Flying Dog in this case).

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