There’s more to a mystery beer box than just the number of beers and the pretty labels. Sooner or later, the point is to drink the damn things.
Today I’ve taken a look at two beers from each box: Remix IPA and Himalayan Red Rye from Flavourly, and DDH IPA and the enigmatically named “F&#%-! IT ALL” from Beer Hawk.
Brew by Numbers, DDH IPA Number Two 6.8%
There was never a chance we wouldn’t try this beer in the first sitting. I’m a massive sucker for line art, and this can doesn’t disappoint. Having a full-sized can to share only made the job easier.
DDH’s appearance is even more striking once you pour it. It’s a bit like fluorescent pineapple juice with a little fizz; the closest thing I can think of is Inca Kola, a lemon verbena drink from Peru.
Fortunately the aroma coming off the DDH is somewhat better than Inca Kola: pineapple up front, but some more delicate hints of orange blossom and oats to back it up.
Unsurprisingly at this point, the flavour is pineapple too. But there’s more to it than that, with the oats giving it a sweet, smooth mouthfeel. The finish is acid, with the carbonation rounding off the experience.
DDH is pretty good, but there’s less flavour than you might expect for a beer clocking in at 6.8%. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt – the can was a few days past its best before date, a fairly common theme across these mystery boxes – but even given its shortcomings, it’s still a good beer. 3/5
To Øl, Santa Gose F&#%-! It All, 4.0%
Right from the outset, I’m annoyed with this beer for taking me on a wild goose chase around the outer reaches of my keyboard. No wonder Beer Hawk had this one left over – how on earth are you supposed to search for that name on the website?
F It All (no, I will not indulge the brewers by mangling my fingers even one more time) is a cloudy straw in colour with a lively, white head. The aroma is intense tropical fruits – I pick up passion fruit and mango. Apparently the aroma I’m struggling to name is guava, which is unsurprising given my lack of experience with guavas.
The flavour is fruity and sour, as you’d expect from a gose. Tart at first, with bitter notes of citrus rind, then mellowing to sweet tropical fruits (again, I assume guava). There’s a frustrating void where you might normally hope to taste a finish.
I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons and learn to love sour beers, but regardless of sourness this beer just doesn’t offer enough fruity or hoppy flavours to entice me in. If it were thicker it might make a good sauce, but as a beer I find it lacking. 1/5
Green Flash, Remix IPA 6.2%
It always feels strange listening to the remix before hearing the original, doesn’t it?
A golden, clear beer with a persistent head. Claims of hoppy freshness on the can are half supported by the aroma – herbaceous and grassy, with spicy notes of coriander seeds. My drinking partner claims it smells like Head & Shoulders shampoo. Let’s hope it doesn’t taste the same too.
The first hit of flavour is bitter, dank and medicinal. That fades to a sticky, honey sweet maltiness, that clings to the roof of the mouth like peanut butter. There’s more of that coriander spice on the finish.
There are times when a little dankness can work wonders, for beer or otherwise. This isn’t one of them. 2/5
Big Hug Brewing, Himalayan Red Rye Ale, 5.0%
Reassuringly, this red rye ale is red and smells of rye. We’re off to a good start.
The thick, cream coloured head sitting atop the clear copper beer evokes something very nostalgic within me. Maybe it’s the tiny dimple glass, perhaps I’ve had a bit too much to drink at this point, but this really looks like the platonic ideal of beer.
The rye hits you right on the nose, joined by a hit of sweeter malt flavours and grapefruit rind. It’s bitter up front, carried along with a thick, malty mouthfeel. The rye brings woody, spicy notes, and the whole thing rounds off with dried orange pith on the finish.
The flavour on this one is fine – it’s a nice balance of woody perfume, caramel, and citrus. But for me, the mouthfeel is what’s carrying Red Rye Ale. I’d have another. (Reader, I had two). 3/5