You may remember all the way back in the post about the 2birds launch I gave mention to another newish brewery Moondog, suggesting that if 2birds were playing it safe with a highly sessionable pale ale then Moondog were the other end of the spectrum, pushing the beer-stained envelope.
Today’s beer is the Moondog Brewery Skunkworks Cognac Barrel Aged Double IPA. Not a beer to be ordered in a loud nightclub, much easier to yell ‘Pot of Caaaarlton thanks’ over the din of the latest Lady Gaga ‘tune’ than Moondog’s Dr Seuss inspired moniker.
I think it’s safe to say that Moondog are definitely producing beers aimed directly to the beer geek. This is evidenced by the label, in an unusual move in beer circles it lists every ingredient, not just the standard malt, water, hops, yeast and time. Nope this one tells you the three different malt types, the six different hops and the type of yeast. It tells you a bunch of figures and abbreviations, most of which I didn’t understand, except IBU of 105 (warning to craft beer newbies, this figure of 105 means this is a big, challenging, very bitter IPA – approach with caution).
The beer pours a browny amber colour with a solid tea coloured head. The interesting thing was there were hops in my glass, clearly they are using fresh hops in the cognac barrels this is aged in, and then,
strangely these are not filtered out (or their quality control is just awful, as I can find any other reviews that mention this). I guess it proves how hoppy it is, but it was a little concerning having all this green mucky stuff sitting in the bottom of my glass. It also meant I couldn’t drink the last 30ml, which was a real shame.
The smell was interesting, a lot sweeter than I was expecting, there were a mixture of hops notes, including citrus, pine and very sweet marmalade and apricot tones.
The taste was also a lot sweeter than I was expecting. They obviously knew this was going to be very bitter so ramped up the malt bill to balance that out, but I actually think they have pushed it too far in the sweet direction. I was drinking this with Jord and we agreed that it tasted a more like a highly hopped Barley Wine rather than a traditional IPA.
In fact this was like two beers in one, a big sweet malty beer in the sip, and then a big bitter hop bomb in the aftertaste. And that aftertaste does really linger, although it seemed to come in waves, bitterness, then sweetness, and then more bitterness, and this continues on for 30-40 seconds.
It’s a fascinating beer, a beer for real beer wankers, one to be considered and discussed and loved and hated. We discussed at length what rating to give it and eventually decided on a Pint.
I really enjoyed this beer, but I’m not sure I could have drunk another one (at least not right away), and here in lies the rub from Moondog. Sure this is twice the price of 2Birds Golden Ale, but I happily drank five 2birds in a session, and you simply couldn’t do that with this, it would be one and then onto something a bit less challenging. At this stage 2birds looks like the safer business model. This video about Moondog suggests even they know that:
Are there enough beer wankers out there to support the crazy breweries like Moondog? I sure hope so, because I am excited to see what they are going to come up with next.
Six degrees of Norm (where we prove all beers can be linked back to Norm from Cheers in six easy steps):
- Moondog always makes me think of greeting card company Moonpig
- A Moonpig always makes me think about ‘Pigs in Space‘
- Which was a segment on The Muppet Show
- A segment which John Cleese starred for an episode
- And John Cleese also featured in an episode of Cheers as a marriage counsellor helping Diane Chambers.
- And Diane Chambers of course served beers to Norm.