New releases: Prototype Challenge 2013
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
- Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Unlike Dr Gonzo, our Prototypes are neither too weird to live, nor too rare to die, and depending on your votes, may be considered for mass production. Get involved, try them all, and let us know which one we should jump start as a regular offering in the new year. To help you pick, here's a handy guide to all three.*
Hobo Pop: Amped-up American wheat beer
Malts: Extra Pale, Cara, Crystal, Wheat & Rye
Hops: Amarillo & Centennial
Hobo Pop is first out of the starting blocks; this amped-up American wheat beer has bags of vibrant citrussy energy and a complexity you wouldn't expect in a 4.2% beer. If this hobo had a knapsack, it would be stuffed full of Amarillo, one of our favourite hops.
On the nose you'll find rye spiciness, pithy orange peel notes, and a caramel malt sweetness underneath. Expect unusual malt complexity on the palate; masses of wheat and rye combine with American ale yeast to bring real effervescence and spice, before a mountain of orange and lychee flavours come crashing in like a vagrant clown at a birthday party.
Despite the big, thirst-quenching hop bitterness, and the complex malt spiciness, Hobo Pop is an easy-drinking beer. It shares some characteristics with a saison, and like a saison, will be at its finest when enjoyed at the height of summer - so try one by all means, but we recommend hiding one at the back of the fridge, to be enjoyed along with your first barbecue of 2014.
Interstellar: Red rye IPA
Malts: Extra Pale, Rye, Crystal, Dark Crystal
Hops: Magnum, Willamette, Amarillo
Following close behind is Interstellar, a red rye IPA with a complexity on a par with the maintenance manual for the Millenium Falcon. Fuelled by Willamette, this massive beer shares the hop profile of a beer we brewed whilst floating down a river in North West USA.
The malt base suggests that 5am Saint went to Dagobah for some training, and came back stronger & more polished. Big, prevalent rye spiciness, toffee, toasted marshmallow, and robust biscuity notes encompass the tongue, before being sliced at the back of the palate with hard, assertive grapefruit bitterness.
This is an autumnal IPA that will have your palate sent to the spice mines of Kessel, and smashed into who knows what.
Brixton Porter: Session porter
Malts: Extra Pale, Dark Crystal, Roast Barley, Black
Hops: Victoria’s Secret, Bramling Cross, Challenger
Originally intended as a beer to mark the opening of our Brixton bar, this porter made it further than our ill-fated potential London venue did.
With an aroma you'd expect to find in a foreign extra or a stout, this deceptive brown porter will taunt your nose with chocolate, deep rich roasted coffee, and the menacing, smoky salty hit of burning pirate ships.
When it hits your tongue, you'll be forgiven for thinking the 5% ABV is some sort of fantastic fabrication. The cacao sweetness, along with the smoky, roasty flavours, will take your palate hostage and hang in there, assuming complete control, until at the last second, an incredible strike force of English hops will burst in, wielding over-ripe autumn fruit, polite well-behaved berries, and a touch of cinnamon apple, in a roasted-bitterness convergence that blows up the whole damn place, leaving you ready for the next mouthful.
The 2013 Prototype Challenge is now in play - try them, consider carefully, and choose your favourite. For the winner, there is eternal glory, and a place in our line-up; for the losers, the scrapheap of obscurity beckons...
Get your hands on the beers from 5pm Saturday, on draft in all of our UK bars. There you'll be able to compare these young pretenders to our current line up, and see which is worthy of a place among their hallowed ranks. While you're there, you can place your vote and help your favourite beer on the path to victory.
If you can't make it to a bar to try them straight from the keg, bottles are available right here.
*The Armoury was sadly lacking in firepower, and for the purposes of the Prototype Challenge, has been abandoned. We won't send a beer out to war if it's not ready, and the Armoury fell short. Keep an eye out in future thought, as you haven't necessarily seen the last of it...