One of the most endearing things about One Drop as a brewery is how they’re just going to keep doing whatever they want, regardless of what would normally be expected of them. Typically at this time of year, breweries are reaching for the chocolate and roasted malts to take advantage of stout season. This, of course, is silly as there’s nothing like an ice-cold foreign export or dry Irish stout in any season. Likewise, you can tuck into a nice lager or fruit sour when the temperature is in single digits and there’s not a court in the land that would have the heart to convict. Don’t let the bastards down at Big Season tell you what to drink!
One Drop’s can art is always top notch, but the Prohibition Lager can is particularly fine. A truly American beer style, this original beers were the result of American brewers substituting different grains in place of much more expensive malted barley during the consolidation of the brewing industry during and following Prohibition. These big brewers stopped producing the pilsner style lagers developed by German immigrants and pushed their new adjunct filled pale lagers as the smaller breweries were never able to recover following Prohibition. Budweiser, the stereotypical American pale lager, has used rice since even before that period, for example. Here, One Drop have gone for a bit of everything: pilsner malt, spelt, corn, rice and oats.
This is probably the palest beer I’ve ever seen. It’s champagne-like in the glass, brilliantly clear with just a tinge of straw yellow. The hop nose is lemony and herbaceous and leaps from the glass thanks to high carbonation. There’s practically zero traditional malt character but I can definitely pick up a couple of cereals like Rice Bubbles and Corn Flakes. There’s a fresh bitter bite and crisp lager finish so even with all the focus being on the malt additions, the highlight of the beer is still the noble hop profile.
With so many of One Drop’s fruited sours being well north of 8 percent ABV, you tend to forget they’re perfectly capable of brewing a simple single fruit sour beer. Mango Sour is exactly that. However, it’s not just a standard lacto kettle sour with some fruit purée; One Drop have blended a couple of different souring bacterial strains along with some Norwegian kveik yeast for a bit of added fermentation complexity.
The mango aromas coming out of this are intoxicating. Sweet mango candy up front and then a freshly cut mango cheek and lactobacillus later on. You know when you get a really good Kensington Pride mango that’s sweet and juicy but also a bit tart the closer the flesh is to the skin? Well, drinking this is like getting a glass full of skin-adjacent Kensington Pride flesh. The juicy acidity and glorious golden mango flavour are an absolute treat, even on a cold autumn evening.
Well, it’s about that time, right? Feels like it’s been at least a few weeks since the last One Drop IPA collaboration with some far flung brewery? That long and agonising wait is finally over. Monte Grande is a NZ IPA brewed in collaboration with Colorado-based Outer Range Brewing, who are in the process of doing the perfectly normal thing of opening a second brewery just down the road in… the French Alps? Sure, why not?
For a NZ IPA, there sure is a fair whack of US hops in this bad boy. Motueka and Riwaka have formed a holy union with Mosaic and Citra to create a really tasty hop profile that brings some of the best aspects of each. Lime and grapefruit citrus, tropical lychee and mango, and a faint undercurrent of that classic Mosaic dankness. I really appreciate the hefty, lingering bitterness here that rolls along with a lean malt base that puts all the focus on the hops. This is a gorgeous example of a modern IPA that makes a cool hop combination the star attraction while not neglecting to make the beer balanced and moreish.
I had to triple check to make sure we hadn’t already written up this beer because this has to be at least the fourth time it’s actually been released, but no, somehow it had evaded our grasp up until now. This is the one: the OG. The big silly beer with the big silly name that’s forever going to be invoked by many as the point where craft beer jumped the shark. The Double Vanilla Custard Pancake Imperial Nitro Thickshake IPA is by anyone’s reckoning, extreme. In the three years since it was first released, One Drop have probably brewed ten equally as insane beers but this will always be the big dog. This isn’t the time or place to go on a rant into why frivolous fun beers and reserved traditional styles can very easily coexist and are both good for the industry, but just take it as a given that anyone who says craft beer is dumb because of beers like this is wrong.
Goddamn, the bouquet that emanates from this thing is preposterous. There’s a Thai coconut pancake called kanom krok that smells exactly like this beer. Well, provided you smashed them into a crème brûlée and poured melted vanilla ice cream on top. Even with all this vanilla and lactose, there is Sabro having an absolute field day sprinkling coconut all over the shop. The actual body of the beer loses the coconut and goes all in on caramel sugar. It’s like crispy sweet pancakes, drizzled in liquid Caramilk chocolate and vanilla anglaise. It’s sweet as sin but come on now, it’s a dessert liqueur in a 440ml can, you know what you’re here for.
Published June 4, 2023 2023-06-04 00:00:00