Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sharp's "52 Brews" Project: Trappist IPA

This is a bloody boring video. Looking back at it, I seem to be dragging the words out one at a time, forcing myself to say something about a beer that I appear not to be enjoying. This is not the case. I think I might have been a little tired after a couple of days in Ceske Budejovice, so apologies to you if you sat through the video, and special apologies to Stuart Howe at Sharp's for my lacklustre review of his beer. I'll try to pep the prose up a bit.

Stuart's project, to brew 52 different beers in a year, on top of running Sharp's brewery is, frankly, a bit mental. I've met Stuart a couple of times, and have been impressed both by the bloody great holes in the plasterboard next to his desk. Who knows what caused them? Well, it's obviously Stuart's fists that made the holes, but what provoked them? A bad set of lab hygiene analysis results or something else implying that he has somehow taken his eye off the ball for a nanosecond, I'd guess. Last time I saw him, he had a huge purple bruise on his forehead. I didn't say anything at the time, expecting to find a fermenting vessel (perhaps one that had produced substandard beer) with a perfect imprint of his forehead in it, but he ruefully confessed the cause later in the day: Extreme Gardening.

Trappist IPA (10%abv) is Staurt's first brew of the series. It seems like I've cleverly chosen it for that reason, but it was just a coincidence - I wanted to drink something strong, full-bodied and slightly oxymoronic, and this fitted the bill pretty much perfectly. The big, sweet maltiness has a classic Trappist character - it reminds me of Chimay Blue - but then also has a big wallop of bitter hops arriving late in the day. The fruity malt trundles along nicely, but then the hops show up after the swallow, giving the beer a big, spicy, chewy character. It's unique and unusual, which sounds like a contemptible cheery-beery-ism, polite shorthand for poorly thought-out and barely drinkable, but as I finished it, I wished I had another bottle.

This beer is intense, powerful, unique, and touched by madness and genius in equal measures. If it's true that dogs and their owners can look alike, then this might be the first example of a beer that is a partial embodiment of its creator.


  1. Where's he finding spare fermenters for all these beers?

  2. Barm - a fair question, and I'm sure Stuart will be along to answer it shortly. I'd guess there's a lot of plastic bucket action involved with this project - picobrewing rather than microbrewing

  3. Thanks for the review Zak, glad you didn't hate it. I certainly didn't find it boring.

    Yes indeed Barm. The 52 brews are produced in firkin-sized 'lash up' of a brewhouse at Chateau Sharp's. Some of the better ideas are being incorporated in to full size single brews and seasonal beers.


Sorry about the word verification - the blog was getting spammed to bits.