Name – Shipwreck IPA
Brewer – Liverpool Organic
Classification – India Pale Ale
Strength – 6.5% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Rich, orange gold.
On the nose – Sharp green-citrus. Intense, fresh and vivid.
On the tongue – Astounding citrus. Remarkable clarity of flavour. Refreshment levels are off the grid. A dazzling and rewarding beer.
On the subject – This is problematic. You'd better read the full review...
On the market – The relative scarcity of this beer is worthy of a national protest. People will learn, and soon. In the meantime, try online at the brewery's own online store.
On the whole – 9/10
On the whole – 9/10
I'm starting to have trouble with Liverpool Organic Brewery.
Or rather, my High Score Chart is starting to have trouble with them.
After featuring just three of their beers, I still have another seven titles to review, but every new label I try leaps straight into the very top section of the rankings.
If this pattern continues, there is a very real danger that the entire top tier of my chart is going to consist of beers from just one company – and that really can't be ideal.
But what the heck can I do, when ales as exquisite as today's keep popping their lids off with such jaw-dropping panache?
In terms of bottled beer in the UK, there really is little doubt that this company have quietly stolen a march over all others at this point in time.
Now, it is true that a fair number UK breweries have yet to get their beers into the mix here on The Year. Fortunately though, with an ever-extending queue of bottles stretching out before me – the number of absentee breweries is falling all the time. But as things stand, Liverpool Organic are the one's setting the standard.
The freshness of these beers is quite simply unparalleled. The bottle-conditioning is exemplary. The branding is beautifully pitched and rendered. The range is extensive, it has broad appeal and is highly dynamic. All of this is first rate, and they even hold the moral and ecological high ground with their organic and vegan-friendly ingredients.
But none of this constitutes the best part.
Towering above all of these other things...are the recipes of the beers themselves, and the overwhelming sense of precision engineering, of compassion and of attention to detail which safeguards and informs every stage of their creation, from brain to bottle.
If I sound like I'm excited, then I've probably failed to properly convey my meaning.
I'm not excited.
I'm not even impressed.
Neither of these terms seem sufficient, somehow.
I think it's probably more accurate to say that I'm moved.
That's what can happen when something that you loved long before you ever encountered it turns up and exceeds every expectation.
I mean, I already loved beer.
And then these things arrived.
It's all a bit much for an everyday guy like me.
I need a moment...
Shipwreck, then, is a stunning example of a contemporary IPA. This is exactly the sort of India Pale Ale people are going all giddy and hysterical about these days, and I challenge even the most determined sceptics to taste this brew and not instantly discover what all the fuss is about. It's no secret that it's taken me a while to catch on to this current hop craze, and although I still hope it really is only a 'craze' (one which passes reasonably soon) it's safe to say that beers like this one have assisted greatly with my eventually getting 'the point' of massively-hopped beers.
And it really is massively-hopped (oh boy is it!) resulting in a bedazzling citrus intensity, and a complexity to rival any other ale I've known. It's got that uncanny 'Liverpool Organic' freshness and vitality, and there's a tremendously immediacy to the drink – there's really no waiting around for the ride to begin. And it's doing all of this so deliciously that you don't stop for a moment to question the absence of things (as can be the case with many new hop-dominant beers, which can often feel like one-trick-ponies) you just sit back and marvel at what actually is in the glass, and wonder how the hell it could possibly have got their in such style.
This is an instant classic. An exemplary British IPA of our times. A strikingly complex highly-hopped drink experience, with a solidly crisp dry bitterness and a delicate but essential hazelnut base.
It's light but firm in body, and shimmers with a decidedly 'juicy' golden hue.
Everything is in place.
Every last thing.
Frankly, this brewery is in a league of it's own right now.
A few more high scores like this one, and 'a league of it's own' is exactly what it will need.