Mixology, beer alchemy, what ever you want to call it is something I’ve liked to do for a while really, even before I really got seriously into beer. I suppose it started from trying to make a pretty mediocre beer taste better, you must have been there when nothing available tastes that great and you start to look around to see “what can I use to make this bilge drinkable”?
Preparations complete, let the carnage commence.
This blend though does not fit into that last category in any way shape or form and in fact I got the idea for this little gem from JK, the head brewer of Buxton Brewery himself. I remember reading his twitter entry which I’m pretty sure was under the hash tag #melangecarnage and thinking WOW, that sounds fantastic, a modern day black and tan with added hop explosion.
So today as the Mrs is away I thought why not recreate it myself in glorious blognicolour for your pleasure. (Just to be clear, I’m taking no pleasure personally in this experimental beer chemistry, it’s all for YOU)
The first ingredient is Axe Edge, Buxton’s Double IPA which I am reliably informed is losing it’s DIPA moniker very soon, to be replaced with something more befitting the title in ABV. (Jeez if this happens its gonna be good)
Make no bones about it though Axe Edge is EPIC.
It was one of THE best beers I tasted last year (and I had a few) and is always in my beer cupboard as long as supllies allow. An absolute hop tsunami of tropical fruit on the nose, mango, grapefruit and orange, this follows through in the taste but without any crippling bitterness that some IPA’s have, think smooth and mellow. I remembered beer writer Zak Avery describing it as being “ruinously drinkable”, basically inferring that you could easily keep quaffing this, but to your ultimate peril. (see video review later on)
The other partner in this crime of beer passion is Buxton Imperial Black IPA, Axe Edge’s dark side if you like but with a black heart and an even higher ABV at 7.5%. The aroma for this one is very different indeed but still gives the full on, in-your-face hop dominance I’ve come to expect from Buxton Breweries beer. Think Mike Tyson crossed with the Incredible
Hop Hulk. Underneath it’s smooth but just as dark and dangerous, flavours of bitter dark chocolate and espresso coffee dominate, but have to fight it out with pithy sweet citrus fruits and bramble berries.
So what of the Melange I hear you cry?
Well first off can I please express my sincere apologies for the absolute fail on the black and tan pour front. I researched how to pour it correctly, but failed… I couldn’t have failed in more epic proportions had the instructions said “pour both bottles into a food processor and turn dial to high”. (I blame not having one of those bendy spoons)
The result though if you shut your eyes is MUCH better. Use your nose and strangely a lot of the big fresh fruit bowl hit has gone, being replaced by more of a malted chocolate aroma, imagine a late night chocolate malt drink but with a metallic peppery hop nip to it. If anything this is a negative mark for the melange as the other two singly smell fantastic.
On taste though is where this works so very well, the balance just sort of, works.
It’s slightly sweet but with a bitter edge, imagine the flesh of a really juicy orange, pop it in your mouth with a hunk of top quality dark chocolate, let the chocolate melt and the flavours merge and you are half way there. It’s just sooo drinkable, if Axe Edge alone was ruinously drinkable this is a potential mass murderer. Considering you have a 6.8% and 7.5% beer in your glass you would never believe it in a million years, a murky dark destroyer.
To summarise I suppose the question remains as to why would you bother to mix two perfectly excellent beers together, when they can stand alone equally well, head held high on your virtual beer shelf, it makes no sense?
To answer that I would simply say, because you can. After all where would we be if folks had never experimented, nothing is perfect, actually I might think about making a flying machine next?