Here comes the first of my “catch-up” posts. Now that I’m feeling 100% it’s time to get down to business and get these write-ups done. I’ll be doing two today. The first is Day 5’s beer followed by Day 10’s. I’ll continue this pattern until I’ve completely caught up. So, let’s get to it.
Today’s beer comes to us from Napabier, a microbrewery located in Noain, Spain. The beer, Alien Klaw IPA, is an IPA brewed with a Belgian yeast. One thing I will say right off the top about this brewery is that they have fantastic artwork. Check the awesomeness of the art here.
Naparbier was founded in 2009 and was originally located in Pamplona, Navarra, Spain. Not necessarily as well known for beer as it is for Bull Fighting or Hemingway, Naparbier was looking to change that. The name is a combination of the Basque word for Navarra (Napar) and the German name for beer (bier, of course).
Originally, they started with just two beers — a pilsner and a dunkel — and now have a range of 14, five of which are year-round.
These guys are focused on freshness and creativity. Except for something like an imperial stout, their beers shouldn’t be aged. Head Brewer Juan Rodriguez is passionate and innovative, exploring both classic styles and more out-there endeavors. One such endeavor is the Pumpkin Tzar Russian Imperial Stout, brewed with pumpkin and habañero chile. They also recently launched a new range of “avant-garde” beers that the brewer calls “a little bit different” from what they usually brew, including a Belgian dubbel and a barley wine aged in whisky barrels. You can see all their beers here.
Naparbier has been growing in reputation over the years and some of their brews have included collaborations with the likes of Evil Twin Brewing. They’ve also made an impression on the folks at Brew Dogs who specially brought in these beers for a £30 a person dinner and beer tasting. Today’s beer is a twist on an IPA by using a non-typical yeast strain. Belgian yeasts tend to bring different esters and add quite a bit more yeast character to the style. IPAs are often brewed with a standard ale yeast that brews clean leaving the hops to be the star. I’m excited to give this beer a try.
IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829. At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”. These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed now. Hops are used as a preservative of sorts, to help keep the beer fresh. If you were preparing a beer for a long trip from England to India, you’d need to add a lot of hops. So, while the IPA if consumed in England before shipping would be quite hoppy, at the other end it likely would not. Today, the tradition of hopping beers continues, but we don’t have as far to send them, and the goal is to make a hoppy beer. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia, the BJCP Guidelines (Page 37) or IPA Beer.
While these beers are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often highlight the variety of flavours and complexities that can come from the simple ingredients used to brew beer. Many will say the IPAs are an acquired taste, and they are rather unique, the bitterness brought using a large quantity of hops is not for everyone. On most IPAs you’ll see an IBU (international bitterness units) number that gives you an idea of how bitter it might be. For comparison, Torque’s American Pale Ale (Foundation) comes in at 30 IBUs, Half-Pints little Scrapper comes in at 50, and Barn Hammer’s Saturday Night Lumberjack at 75 IBUs.
As this one uses a Belgian yeast, we can expect it to much more yeast character. Hopefully they balance well against the hop notes.
Appearance: Pours a hazy pale golden yellow with a frothy white head.
Smell: A bit of a yeasty nose along with some nice tropical fruit notes like passion fruit and pineapple. Some resinous, piney notes as well on the tail end.
Taste: You can tell that this beer has been brewed with a Belgian yeast. I have a bit of a hard time describing it, but there is a yeast character that, some pepperiness and fruitiness, that come from the yeast. This is followed by some of those tropical fruit notes and a dry resinous bitter finish.
Mouthfeel: Light body, dry bitter finish.
Overall: The hops in this style of beer tend to overpower the notes from the Belgian yeast. I don’t find that quite the case in this beer. I get the notes of the Belgian yeast up front and they balance well with the tropical fruity notes and resinous bitterness from the finish.
Do I like it: I did like it. While I don’t drink a lot of IPAs anymore, I still enjoy them. I like the play on different hop notes along with different yeasts. I enjoyed the use of Belgian yeast in this beer and I’d be happy to drink it again.