Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greene King IPA

The India Pale Ale style was invented by the British, although it's rather ironic that so few breweries in England actually make an IPA. I thought this beer would be a good representation of classic British IPA style. Greene King is partnered with Morland - the brewery behind the famous "Old Speckled Hen" and other famous pub ales and "real ales". I was very curious to see what their take on the IPA style would be.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - AUG 16, 2011
I poured a 16oz can into an English nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Attractive hue of bright copper with reddish/mahogany overtones. Forms a fairly large, white, frothy head that last throughout the life of the drink but doesn’t lace very well.

Smell: Slightly skunky or oxidized. It has that typical British pub ale aroma all beers of the sort seem to have. Slight metallic scent under some mild red apple and biscuity malt scents. Otherwise very mild in the nose.

Taste: When a beer has the letters "IPA" on the can in large font you go into it with an expectation. Even though Greene King is a British beer and IPAs from that land tend to be much more balanced than the hop bombs we have here in America, to call this beer an IPA is to mock the drinker. There is no way, shape or form this beer meets any IPA standards by anyone. Perhaps it’s based on actual 19th century recipe when the style originated where the beer with brewed and shipped with extra hops to survive the long trip from England to India so that it would still taste like a pub pale ale by the time it arrived? That’s all I can think of to justify calling this an IPA.

But regardless of the misnomer (or not), the fact remains this is just a lame beer. Though the label boasts complexity and balance the actual product is nothing of the sort. It’s basically a very cookie cutter British bitter without the creativity. Sure you do get some biscuity maltiness, a touch of apple-like juiciness and sweetness, but no bitterness whatsoever. The beer has a watery body and taste to match. Not that it’s abyssmal, though. While there’s a slight sourness or astringency to the taste, it doesn’t taste as bad as say a Heineken. Still, there’s just nothing in the palate for the taste buds to latch on to.

Mouthfeel: Like thick water with a slightly silky texture of coffee creamer. Subtle wet chalky aftertaste.

Drinkability: If anything would indicate this is NOT an IPA it would be the 3.6% ABV clearly marked on the can several times. One serving has absolutely no effect on my system and I’m not about to drink an entire 4-pack just to get a buzz. If one had the taste for this beer one could indeed session it all day and all night because it’s so light, but it’s difficult to imagine the average beer drinker (craft or otherwise) wanting to drink more than two of these at a time.

Overall, Greene King IPA, much like Tetley’s and Boddington’s, represents all that is WRONG with British pub ale styles. What’s the point of having a drinkable beer if there’s no taste to back it up?

Grade: 4/10

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