Curious IPA (330ml, 5.6% ABV)

A winemaker brewing beer? Has the world gone mad? It’s like cats and dogs living together. But that’s exactly what Chapel Down Winery has done. Not content with that, they make cider and brandy too. What’s next – a gin distillery, an absinthe laboratory?

CuriousAll of their beers come under the Curious name. As well as this IPA, they brew a Curious Porter and Curious Brew (a lager).

The IPA is an amber specimen with a smell of of honey-ish hops and blackcurrant (a characteristic of the Bramling Cross hops, or so I gather from my voluminous library of beer books).

The taste is a surprise – I’m expecting the assertive hoppiness of an IPA (after all, you’re going to need a fair dose of bitterness to balance that 5.6% alcohol), but it’s actually the malt that shines here – a clean biscuity character that makes me wonder whether this wouldn’t be better described as a strong bitter.

What marks this beer apart is that after a normal fermentation using ale yeast, there is a six week conditioning period in which champagne yeast is used.

IPA is a fashionable term in the beer industry, and one that’s been stretched to breaking point in every conceivable direction. I guess that ultimately there’s only one truly important question is: is this a good beer? And once you’ve abolished your IPA preconceptions, it is.

A curious kind of IPA. I see what they did there!

Written by Richard Salsbury

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