Before opening, if you twist your can of Random Rules – the latest hazy and intensely hopped IPA from Cornwall’s Verdant – you’ll likely notice some lyrics on the side. My can’s lyrics are from Buckingham Rabbit, one of several stand out tracks on American Water by Silver Jews, originally released in 1998. The beer’s vivid label art even takes its cue from the record’s artwork.
But not every can of this beer has the same name on the label, nor the same lyrics. There are several iterations – Smith & Jones Forever, We Are Real, Send In The Clouds, Honk If You're Lonely… Like Random Rules itself, all are Silver Jews songs.
There is a moving purpose behind this tribute to the New York City indie band. In August 2019 its lead singer, David Berman, tragically passed away, taking his own life at the age of 52. Despite considering myself a music fan with wide and varied taste, I had never given Silver Jews the due diligence they deserved. So before writing this review, I cracked the beer and pressed play on American Water. As Berman’s gravelly, East Coast vocals trickled around the ring of fuzzy guitar chords and gentle drum grooves, I tipped my glass to the late singer before pressing my nose to the rim of my glass.
Random Rules is as Verdant a beer as you’ll get from this well-loved young brewery. It’s opaque in its yellowness, massive aromas of lychee and mango booming from its foam. To taste, it’s a tropical fruit bomb, thick and creamy in the mouth with a hint of pithy pink grapefruit in the finish, leaving you wanting another taste.
With many New England style IPAs, I often find myself enjoying the first half of the can far more than the second. They can quickly become heavy, clagging at the palate a little. This IPA steers clear of that with the effortlessness I’d expect from Verdant. Yes, the mouthfeel is rich and pillowy, but it doesn’t lose any zing as you drain your glass. That extra kick of citrus in the finish adds the dry, refreshing aspect I want from this genre of IPA.
It’s a cracking beer and a fitting tribute to a great performer lost far too soon. And I can confirm it tastes even better when you’re listening to Silver Jews.
Editor’s note: Verdant kindly donated some of the proceeds of Random Rules to Man Down, which offers support for men’s mental health in Cornwall - nice work, guys :)
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. This beer was so popular that we sold out of it within days, so unfortunately you’re out of luck if you’re hankering for a can. To avoid missing out on gems like this, and to be first to read articles from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen, why not subscribe to our All Killer No Filler subscription box?