Gigantic Grapefruit IPA – Tasting Notes


So many of you* have written in to ask how this beer turned out, that it’d be a public disservice if I didn’t write this review.

And god knows it’s nice to hear from people from time-to-time.  Very often blogging is like casting pearls to the wind; and people, that’s one mixed metaphor you certainly won’t have heard before.

(*alright, so it was actually two people: Dan and Simon…but I was very happy to hear from them all the same…)

Anyway.  Here is the post about making the Grapefruit IPA:

Annoyingly, the half keg of it I had kicked half-way through a barbecue, so I had to break out some very nicely-aged Brett Pale Ale instead .  The rest was bottled – which are way more “fridgeable” than the corny keg.

The Grapefruit IPA arrives in a glass with a fearful chill-haze; but, hey, it’s an American-style IPA and they’re always hazy so everyone wins.

The head is magnificently retentive and that’s down to the wheat malt (as is, probably, the chill haze…)

Bear in mind, that because it’s 7.7% it has to be served cold, and there’s no two ways about it:  warm it’s like Gold Label (Barley Wine) from the days of yore.  Cold: it’s refreshing, fruity, zesty and suicidally drinkable.

There’s more than enough aroma, which is all West Coast hops with not so much dankness, but more of the fruitiness and juiciness that I was looking for.

It’s a big old taste, with lashings of warming alcohol, fruity hops and a solid bitterness – after that comes a wave of fairly pokey citrus ‘n’ grapefruit.

All-in-all, it’s just what I was hoping for. It runs the Ballast point Grapefruit Sculpin pretty close – and on that basis alone, I’m happy.

Honestly, it’s the best beer I’ve made this year; and do you know what?  I might end up adding citrus zest to all of my hoppy beers – as the hops fade the zest takes over and seems to elongate the sensation of hoppiness.

Again, as with some of my other beery efforts, those who have tried it have offered to buy it in quantity.  But I couldn’t do that… the thought of the excise men battering down my door in the middle of the night leaves me cold and clammy.

God, I wish very small-batch brewers (i.e. under a barrel – 117Litres per month) were allowed to flog their beer like the cider farmers can.

I’d only sell to make a tiny profit, meaning the rest covered the cost of ingredients and electrics.

Essentially it would mean that I’d be able to do more of what I enjoy, and that’s making lots of beer and have people buy, drink and enjoy it.

Gorgeous Gargantuan Grapefruit: @BPbrewing – Grapefruit Sculpin IPA


I know this might be a rather strong way to start a review, but:


I know I’ve gone off of the deep end about certain beers before, but honest to goodness this is a truly great beer, and in this review I’m hoping to somehow, in however small-a-way, impress the greatness of it upon you…

In fact Ballast Point have made such a good job of brewing this, you needn’t bother reading the rest of my review; the time being far better spent trying to secure yourself a bottle or two…

So how did I come by this gem of a beer..?

A work trip to the AWS re:Invent conference just before Christmas meant that I found myself on a warmish Sunday afternoon shambling down the Las Vegas strip with my boss, you know, just taking in the sights after an hour or so of blazing away with large calibre machine guns and pistols (Battle Field Vegas. Go. Don’t ask. Just go.)

With the smell of cordite fresh in our nostrils we needed beer.

The liquor store beckoned (my boss always advises having a stock of beers in a hotel room…whether that’s for refreshment or just to stop his employees making too free with the company credit cards I’m not sure.  Either way it’s advice I never fail to heed)

Once inside the liquor store, I was staggered by the selection on offer.  So many beers, so many pretty bottles.  In the end, and having heard so much good stuff about it, I just had to have the Sculpin…this decision being helped in no small part by my boss sighing and leaning heavily on the counter while I ummed and ahhed.

Poured into a glass the upfront aroma is all fresh and zingy grapefruit rinds. There’s a lovely candyish marmalade note too. After that it’s hops, hops, hops! If I couldn’t have a bottle of Sculpin to drink, I’d happily settle for a whiff of the GLORIOUS aromatics instead.

Colour-wise, it’s old polished copper, with a perfect carbonation and a lovely frothy-foamy snow-white head.

When tasted, it’s full in body at 7 or so percent – which in my opinion is the sweet spot for this time of IPA.

Even at 7% ABV, Sculpin is as clean as a whistle…which is a good job because there’s an absolute ton of other flavour to come: a huge rush of zesty, pithy grapefruit and floral hops, LOVELY orangey maltiness , before the dank hops and laser-targeted 70IBU bitterness come to finish the whole thing off.

But wait! There’s a little grapefruit twang right at the end that makes your mouth run like a tap – which means you just can’t stop drinking.

I drank two bottles straight down – it really was that good.

But remember, you have to have this beer coolish – at least cellar temperature – there’s no point having it warm…it’s just not the same.

This is a GLORIOUS beer. You JUST have to try it. I doubt I’ll find equal or better for a very long while.


Webpage here:

(I will make a clone tribute to this remarkable beer, just you wait…)

Summer Storm Ale (A Hop Back Summer Lightning Clone) in a Braumeister – Tasting Notes


If you remember, a few weeks back I put this Hop Back Summer Lightning clone together ( as I knew we’d be having a couple of parties (the boys’ first and third birthdays and my fortieth – yes, I do look and feel that old)

Well, this beer appears to have been a minor hit…in fact the Hob Goblin and London Pride bottles that I’d bought as back-up for both events were UNTOUCHED; Yes, that’s right, they all preferred to drink my Summer Storm beer – which might have been purely out of politeness – but everyone had seconds (and thirds and some of them, fourths) so it must have been OK…

Summer Storm arrives in a glass a pleasant light-brass colour and sports a jolly head that sits around for a bit and never really retires.  It has a mineral and malty aroma with a hint of East Kent Golding Hops – but not nearly as much as I’d imagined there’d be after stuffing a WHOLE PACKET into it, either way it’s an enticing aroma and is clean and not the faintest bit “home-brewey”

The mouth feel is pretty good, being neither too heavy or too light and the taste is of a nice light malt character with a residual sweetness that fades to a satisfying bitterness.  The after-taste is surprisingly enduring and is of solid English hops.

I’m very happy with how this one turned out, but I think it could probably do with a more discernible ale-y yeast character…something like Windsor or Nottingham; but other than that minor quibble, it worked a treat.  I’d definitely brew this one again, people liked it and so do I…

Summer Storm Ale (A Hop Back Summer Lightning Clone) in a Braumeister

We’ve got a party coming up in a few weeks, there’s going to be a few people there who like their beer and I intend to serve them up something that’s befitting of the season…if not the weather.

As Hop Back Summer Lightning is THE summer beer that all others aspire to, I decided to work up a clone recipe.

Looking at other clones of HBSL, they all seem to be a bit light-handed with the East Kent Goldings hops and fairly hefty on the alcohol.  Because I don’t want a party full of slavering maniacs, I’ve dialled the gravity back a bit to 4.5% from the 5% of the original, and I’ve pumped the hops right up to make up for it. A WHOLE PACK in fact. God, it makes me feel alive to write that…

I used Chinook for bittering because I happened to have an opened pack in the freezer.  Normally I would have used some of a fresh pack of Target or Challenger, but I’m too tight-fisted for that.

Here’s the recipe:

Summer Storm Ale

I’m using US-05 yeast again because I love it a bit too much and it’ll rip through this wort like a chainsaw through a turd – probably finishing up at around 1009 or so and giving me those extra few points to 4.5%.

Of course US-05 is such a clean-living beast that it won’t over-power the whole thing with farty esters – meaning that even the rubbish-lager-loving dimbos* can enjoy it too.

(*not that we’ve invited any…)

I’ll let you all know how it turns out.  I must write up the notes about the HxPA too, mustn’t I?  Bad Jon.

(PS: I used whole hops too and managed not to bung the Braumeister up.  A simple sheet of fine-ish stainless steel mesh between the element and the tap hole saved me a ton of grief.  I’ll post some pictures when I remember.)