Thornbridge’s Jaipur, and its many variations, are delicious examples of hop-forward, bitter IPAs. While these cans are all very good, for the ultimate Jaipur experience you’re best off finding somewhere it’s kept well in cask. Jaipur and its variations contain gluten and aren’t suitable for vegans.
Few beers can boast as many awards as Jaipur. From its first medal at the Sheffield Beer Festival to winning gold at the World Beer Awards in 2016, Jaipur is as competitive and relevant now as it was when Peak District brewers Thornbridge first produced it 15 years ago.
It’s so popular that Thornbridge, much like a Hollywood film studio, has created a series of spin-offs. That’s what we’ll be exploring today: pitting the original Jaipur IPA against its double dry hopped and imperial strength cousins.
Jaipur is not a new beer. It’s been doing the rounds since Thornbridge first mixed it up in an effort to create something hoppy and interesting back in 2005. These days it’s ubiquitous, available on tap in pubs (on the rare occasion they’re allowed to open) and in very reasonably priced multipacks on the shelves at Tesco. If you’ve ever been tempted to pick up eight cans of beer for £9, it’s likely Jaipur was one of the options.
Jaipur definitely doesn’t feel like an old beer, however. It still looks and tastes as intense and exciting as the freshest of hype beers, despite having done the rounds long enough for the government to scramble its GCSE results.
Loaded up with six varieties of hops (Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus, and Cascade), this is an IPA brewed in the West Coast tradition. It’s a dark, straw yellow in colour and fairly clear, nothing like the hazey juice bombs that seem to dominate the IPA landscape now. The aroma is citrussy, offering up a mix of lemon, orange, and grapefruit zest. There’s a touch of floral honey too.
On the palate Jaipur takes you on a journey. The biscuity malt kicks things off, soon overwhelmed by an onslaught of bitter hops that dry the tongue satisfyingly. A burst of malt sweetness returns as the beer warms, then back to that dry, hoppy bitterness on the finish. There’s little carbonation, perhaps from my overzealous fridge cooling, and the mouthfeel thin and refreshing.
Canned Jaipur is good, but not so good you’d write home about it. If government allows you to leave the house and go to a pub, however, glory awaits. Kept well, cask Jaipur easily earns 4/5. In canned form, it earns a respectable three stars out of five: excellent, given how easily attainable it is.
Jaipur is already known for being packed full of hops. This variation takes that to its logical conclusion, packing even more hops into an already hoppy beer.
As if six varieties of hops weren’t enough, this double dry hopped edition of Jaipur takes the same combination and adds another batch. The result is a hazier beer with a softer mouthfeel, placing it somewhere in the Midwest: it’s not a West Coast IPA any more, but it doesn’t have the sweetness or overwhelming tropical fruit aromas of NEIPA.
That being said, we do pick up more tropical fruit notes on the nose – mango, pineapple – but that’s balanced with more pine resin. The bitterness so apparent in vanilla Jaipur is still there, but softer. The lemon zest flavours are still present, but with more spicy resin and a thicker, chewier mouthfeel.
This is an interesting take on what’s already a pretty good beer. Like a well sculpted set of eyebrows, these are sisters, not twins. The DDH edition isn’t miles better than the regular Jaipur, but it’s certainly no worse.
Ten years on from Jaipur’s first appearance, brewers Thornbridge decided it was time to celebrate. The result is Jaipur X, a variation on Jaipur with more hops, more malt, more of everything, creating an imperial IPA at an impressive 10.0% ABV.
Though an earlier variation on Jaipur than the DDH, I’ve chosen the X to finish given its slightly frightening ABV.
While my partner catches up with the exploits of her favourite drag queen on Instagram (where you can follow my antics here, by the way), I’m cracking open a can of Jaipur X. Brewed with everything that goes into Jaipur but in much larger quantities, we’re dealing with something stronger, punchier and more flavoursome than the original.
In appearance, this looks very similar to the vanilla Jaipur. The aroma, however, is far stronger. It’s heavy on the lemon and grapefruit zest that led the way before, but with a healthy helping of the pine resin so apparent in the DDH edition.
Things kick off on the palate with a spicy, alcoholic warmth with a little sweetness. The traditional Jaipur bitterness follows, with the resin we picked up from the DDH edition.
Again, this is a little different from the vanilla Jaipur but it’s no better. The extra strength gives it that alcoholic warmth, but also a less pleasant metallic harshness.
The DDH and X variations are a celebration of the original Jaipur recipe. They’re different, and a bit of fun. But if you’re looking for the best Jaipur experience, you’re best off sticking with the real thing.