Don’t look into his eyes. They’ve been known to paralyze, mortify, and brutalize. This ninja is quick, deadly, and is bitter about something. Likely because Pipeworks Brewing Co. shoved whole lot of Nelson Sauvin hops into his bottle. He’s looking for a score to settle and is ready to nun-chuck the bejesus out the unsuspecting beer drinker. I’m willing to bear the brunt of this attack, but will it be more like a 1920’s bare knuckle boxing match or a school girl pillow fight? Time to run them numbers…
Appearance: Fuller and darker than many west coast IPAs, but Pipeworks is from Chicago anyway, so the west coast comparison is stupid. Nice light tan head that laced.
Smell: So this will be frustrating for some readers, but it smells just like a batch of homebrew that I made (in which I ended up drain pouring). Not a good way to start off this brew with bad memories like that. With that homebrew, I used only New Zealand hops including Wakatu, Nelson, Galaxy, and Wai-iti with a very light grain build and low ABV. So I can say for certain, a ton of New Zealand hop aroma is coming from this, however if those hops aren’t balanced, it gives off a dirty dishwater/sponge smell… and I’m getting a little bit of that out of this brew. Some traditional hop aromas, a little citrus, some berry notes, and the malt is definitely coming through in the smell – like a dense rye biscuit.
Taste: OK… things are looking up. This is my third Nelson IPA I’ve reviewed in less than a month, and in the previous two, I was baffled at how different they were from the homebrew I whipped up. Nelson Showers and Alpine Nelson were both extremely tropical on the smell and also carried a heavy citrus note as I drank. This beer is more like my botched homebrew, but where I got it wrong, Pipeworks got it right.
The flavor profile is very heavy with dark berries: blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry – and while I have no clue what a gooseberry is, some say that Nelson hops give off this flavor as well. There is really no citrus to be found in this Nelson IPA and as alluded to before, it’s entirely different than the two previous Nelson bitters I reviewed. The heavy malt base and high octane ABV pairs perfectly with the rich berry flavors bursting from this brew. And that’s where Pipeworks got it right. The sweet, spicy, and biscuity malt base along with the 10% ABV thicken up this beer. Both of these elements in the brew join hands with the Nelson hops rather than sitting on opposite sides of the isle, making it complete. And while they pair well together, I wouldn’t say that it’s an overly complex brew – berries, bitter, sweet. That’s what we have here. The mouthfeel on this brew is heavy for an IPA and it’ll take some time to get through this bomber by yourself.
Overall: Pipeworks made a Nelson DIPA that was like only one other beer that I’ve had… a homebrew that I tossed. I will caution you, that this rating is based off of my past experiences and tastes. I typically hate “berry” flavored anything – juice, candy, or beer. That said, I give Pipeworks a B- on this brew. It’s not something that I would ever go back to, however I do feel that it gives off a more authentic Nelson IPA taste, or one that at least matches one similar to what I made. The 10% ABV and malt presence bails it out, but berries are still at the forefront. This ninja is sneaky.