Beer: Garage Project ‘API IPA’
From: Hashigo Zake
This is perhaps one of my less timely reviews: API was released in time for Webstock 2013, which was a while ago. But it’s also the first beer off Garage Project’s bottling line, so there’s a high chance readers will see this beer further afield than the usual Wellington beer-spots.
First thing to note about API is that its a concept beer. I love concept beers, but they don’t always work out. Phil from the Garage pitched it to me one rather slow Saturday shift. “It’s like an IPA, but backwards.”
“So you… reverse the hop schedule?” I asked.
“Exactly.” (Ha! +1 to Beer Geek ability). “We used an aroma hop for bittering and a bittering hop for flavour.”
“What’d you use? Super-Alpha?” I asked.
“Yeah, actually.” Woo! Another +1 to Beer Geek ability. It would be +2 if I’d used the proper name for the hop. Super-Alpha, or as it should now be known, Dr Rudi, is a New Zealand grown hop grown to have a high (or ‘super’) alpha acid content. Alpha acids are chemicals which give beer it’s bitterness.
My lucky guess isn’t that surprising. I’ve known a couple of home-brewers that have used Dr Rudi for flavour and aroma, as well as a brew by ePICO, which was written about here.
It’s cloudy, pale orange. Smells leafy-green and kind of lemony. The flavour is very bitter, but the body is full which counter-points it nicely. The over-all hop character is peppery, with hints of lemon.
It’s a nice beer, balanced and all that bollocks. So why do I suggest in my second paragraph that I’m a bit luke-warm about it? Well, because the conclusion I reached after my first pint was that API isn’t much fun. Garage Project are nothing if not masters of making hoppy beers that reach down your trousers and tug on your fun bits (metaphorically speaking, of course). API just doesn’t do that. It’s a pint of perfectly acceptable hoppy beer, nothing more, nothing less.
Annoyingly I think this beer could be made fantastic very easily: just a wee dash more flavour hops. Just a smidgeon of Sauvin, a pinch of Motueka, a drizzle of Riwaka, and this beer would pop! It would be a fun-tastic IPA. But therein lies the problem. You’d be using flavour hop for flavour, which would defeat the entire concept of the beer. That’s what I thought after my first pint.
But I had to be sure. I wasn’t thrilled by my first pint, so I had a second. And a third. And a fourth. In fact, this beer was on tap during the entire week of Webstock and I had a pint of it for my staffie every single day. And a few more pints on top of those. In short, I drank a metric shit-load of API.1 And I will drink a lot more (I might even be drinking one as you read this).
And that I think, is really the point I’m trying to get at. It’s a pint of perfectly acceptable hoppy beer, nothing more, but certainly nothing less. I could drink it all night and while it will might not set me aflame, I’ll never tire of it either. And that perhaps, is one of the biggest endorsements I can give a beer. It might not tickle my fun-bits, but hey, it’s still bloody good and you should definitely have one.2 Or two. Or six. Just to be sure.
- Which is smaller than an imperial shit-load and uses base-ten.
- Although it is a little grainy, Pete.