We just accidentally had a very funny beer taste-off. Ironically, over the past few months, just as our regular column got canned, beer has started arriving on our doorstep in record volumes. (To be fair, we don’t usually do reviews.) And just as we were heading off on holiday we received a new Mac’s special release and a new Epic beer. Normally, it wouldn’t be fair to even drink these on the same day. But as we set up the pre-dinner cheese platter in our holiday house, reading the descriptions to choose a beer, it actually seemed the right thing to do. A Mac’s IPA really reaching for craft, up against an Epic IPA really striving for sessionable – this could actually be a fair fight.
Epic Imp Session IPA – more hops than Armageddon but only 35 IBU – 4.7% alc/vol
The tag line warns us to be careful what we wish for. We personally haven’t been wishing for lower alcohol hoppy beers, but recognise the global trend. The beer is the Imp, Epic’s newly released 4.7% session IPA. More hops that Armageddon, with less malt to cover up the earthy, herbal spiciness. If you find Armageddon to be too malty, this one might just be for you. If you find yourself falling over after 4 pints of Armageddon, this also might be for you.
Fresh from the fridge it is confrontingly bitter, with a note or two of malt under the tanic layers of late/dry hops. As it warms it comes more into balance, though still it is a mini hop bomb. We enjoyed it alone and with an aged cheddar, but didn’t find it sessionable apart from the lower alcohol. The bitterness built on the palate to the point we fancied a malt or sour driven beer to help our tongues recalibrate. That said, we certainly enjoyed the complex and layered hop flavours with mint and sage nestled amongst the fruity pines. Best drunk fresh, session beers can’t hold on to their hops.
Mac’s seasonal release Green Beret IPA – hoppier than Hop Rocker at 46 IBU – 5.5% alc/vol
If you are amongst the group that has found Hop Rocker a bit underwhelming of late – possibly because you have begun to crave a bit more punch in your pale ales – you might be curious, as we were about this new seasonal offering Green Beret IPA. Despite the name, it is AMNZ joint forces with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Nelson Sauvin.
The tap only IPA charges out of the glass with a very respectable NZ hop aroma. The flavour is built on a biscuity malt base with hints of butterscotch. The hops integrate nicely and bring a nice tropical and citrus balance. We happened to drink it with a butter heavy meal where it became a bit of a diacetyl bomb, but overall it was a freshly hoppy, more-ish beer. If you love your hops, then when you drink where that Mac’s is the best option, demand this beer be added to the taps.