The release of a new Eight Degrees beer has become a very exciting prospect for the Destrier, so when I sauntered in to Bradley's on a mission to find rye IPA Gasman I audibly gasped to see, alongside it, another new beer. Hurray!
The Gasman first. I'd already had it and taken notes on the draught version in the Bierhaus, so that's what I'm talking about, contrary to the picture here.
Pouring bright orange, it's positively pungent on the nose, with orange rind, sorbet and marmalade forming an expectation of bitter-sweetness to come. What came was more bitter, less sweet. My notes eloquently state that Gasman is 'off its tits with hops', and while that doesn't make any actual sense it is an accurate description of the experience yielded. It's abrasive in its hop-forwardness, with an explosive burst of pithy citrus fruit the curtain-opener for a rather grating bitter orange and spike of malt that somehow doesn't provide much sugary sweetness. Waxy citrus bitterness lasts forever and the thing can happily be described as a fruit bomb, even if the fruit in question is namely those of the more orangey branch of the citrus family. It's good, it's tasty, it's wonderfully hoppy, but the ABV of 7.8% and intense bitterness damages drinkability to such a degree that I find my pint a tad laborious towards the finish. Still, there's plenty to enjoy in the Gasman, preferably in *gasp* smaller measures. The bottle, then went down easier.
Polar Vortex is the second new beer from Mitchelstown in 2015, and it's an IPA of 5.8%. Instantly, it is far more approachable than the Gasman, though I can't attribute that to the alcohol level; the Gasman wasn't particularly boozy, nor is this particularly flimsy. Rather, Polar Vortex is just a far more rounded drink. Billed to showcase Cascade with Simcoe and Citra in supporting roles, it can't come as a surprise that it exhibits all the lovely pine needle, citrus pith and peel that a typical US west-coast IPA tends to have, but it does so with such aplomb that I couldn't help but only half-jokingly nominate it as my beer of the year. Grapefruit and orange peel are the other star players on the nose. To taste, it's both balanced and bold, with plenty of those bright, zesty, mandarin skin and pine needle stuff bouncing off an underlying layer of sweet candied lemon skins, pineapple and tropical fruit juice. The overall effect is of a punchy, sharp, wholly hop-forward beer that remains remarkably gulpable throughout, something that can be very difficult to achieve (as seen right now, with the Gasman).
Hats off Eight Degrees, master proponents of Irish hoppiness.