I’ve taken to enjoying a lot of wine recently. I’ve even gone as far as to sign up to HB&B’s Natural Wine Killers subscription club. It wasn’t long before my shelves started to groan under the weight of several bottles of exciting natural wine. A good problem to have, I admit, but I had to face facts – it was time to start opening these bottles.
For a long time, a bottle of wine to me has symbolised sharing and camaraderie. Whether it’s over dinner or simple conversation, a 750ml bottle is there to be poured and passed around, until it’s time to open the next one. The same is true of beer and cider. There’s a certain joy in sharing a big bottle from the likes of Burning Sky, or Oliver’s Cider and Perry, with friends.
However, a 440ml can doesn’t always send the same sharing message – although when you’re dealing with a 10% beer, it should. This particular beer, 85 – the latest triple IPA from London’s Brew By Numbers – despite its lofty strength, tastes like the kind of beer you want to covet rather than rationing out. Its aroma groans under the weight of intensely tropical yet slightly savoury Mosaic hops. But rather than buoying this sensation with the oft-used Citra, this beer diverts to Calypso and El Dorado, adding passion fruit, mango and guava undertones into the heady mix.
I found myself halfway through the can without realising, such was its drinkability; the gentle warmth of alcohol being the only sensation that indicated the beer’s strength. There’s a stickiness to this beer, not unlike a barleywine that’s been blended with a juicy double IPA. And this is what makes it so satisfying, it’s at once voluminous and potent before reverting back to being dry and drinkable. Soon, I realised the other half of the can had disappeared too.
Then I really felt its strength. I crushed this like so many IPAs before it, but at 10% the triple IPA would have been better shared. So be careful to take it easy with this one and share it with friends, because the delicious beer inside definitely doesn’t want you to.
Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. We have just a handful of BBNO 85 Triple IPA cans left, pick one up while you can…