Pirate Life have a good track record when it comes to singling out new hops for single hop IPA treatment, most notably when they took Mosaic – not exactly shiny and new on these shores at the time but far from its current ubiquity – and turned it into a trophy-gathering, palate-delighting monster. They've also been among the most high profile mothers of invention within the Aussie beer scene since launching a little over five years ago, a habit that, if anything, has only become more far-reaching since their sale to AB InBev (which following the "merger" of Asahi and CUB sees them sit alongside the likes of Mountain Goat, Balter, 4 Pines, Green Beacon and Matilda Bay within the Japanese giant's local craft offering). Where once they were known predominantly for high impact, hop forward beers, these days there have been sours aplenty, various session ales and pales, big stouts and much more besides.
It makes this single hop IPA, featuring label art by Mike Makatron (responsible for the huge mural on their Port Adelaide brewery), feel like a reversion to type. And it's a welcome one too, not least because the choice of hop makes me feel like going out and buying myself a leisure suit, jingle my change and be kinda cute. Zappa is another variety with neomexicanus roots (hype hop du jour Sabro has such parentage on its mum's side) and comes with plenty of enticement to Sheik Yerbouti.
In these hazy days, this beer couldn't pour any clearer if it wanted to (another reversion to type and a million miles from the lumpy gravy passing as some IPAs today) and serves up plenty for the observant hop fiend to tuck into. There's intense fruity characters encompassing pineapple, white wine and grapefruit pith plus a spicy Asian herbaceousness, a minty aftermath and no little resin. They sit within a tight yet slightly sticky pale malt base, with such a base presumably required to stop the sizeable bitterness becoming even bigger than it is in these low IBU days.
- Single Hop IPA