South West, not Wild West

St Austell Big Job IPA.

Prop­er Job IPA (cask at 4.5%; bot­tled at 5.5%) is the hop­pi­est of St Austel­l’s reg­u­lar range, and its inter­na­tion­al­ly suc­cess­ful brand has been ‘extend­ed’ to give us Prop­er Black (a bot­tled black IPA at 6%) and now Big Job, a bot­tled US-inspired strong IPA at 9%.

Roger Ryman, head brew­er at St Austell, has used the name Big Job for var­i­ous strong IPAs in recent years, includ­ing a ‘south seas’ ver­sion, and the c.6% cask beer we tried at Bod­min beer fes­ti­val ear­li­er this year. This iter­a­tion, pre­sent­ed in a crown-capped 750ml bot­tle, is an unashamed imi­ta­tion of of the type of Amer­i­can ‘dou­ble IPA’ you might see lurk­ing in a fridge at the Craft Beer Com­pa­ny.

On the whole, we felt dis­tinct­ly warm towards this beer. It has Ryman’s trade­mark clean, dis­tinct, bright flavours, and would cer­tain­ly pass as some­thing from across the Atlantic in a blind tast­ing. Its tagline is ‘mas­sive­ly hopped’ and, from the undoubt­ed­ly gen­er­ous use of Cit­ra and Cen­ten­ni­al hops, we got sweet orange fruit rather than puck­er­ing grape­fruit, with per­haps a lit­tle whiff of music-fes­ti­val drug fug. Mas­sive? No, but plen­ty, in terms of flavour, at least. It also has some just-caught sug­ar bit­ter­ness, sweet mar­malade stick­i­ness and a throat-catch­ing alco­holic burn (nicer than it sounds) for bal­ance.

There is no down­side, as such – there’s noth­ing bad about it – but, com­pared to the Brew­dog Punk IPA we drank after­wards, Big Job seemed a lit­tle restrained in its aro­ma (as if it real­ly had trav­elled a few thou­sand miles, in fact), so per­haps a heav­ier hand with the dry-hop­ping might help it along. We also thought, at this strength and sweet­ness, that it could have stood a lit­tle more car­bon­a­tion. It would cer­tain­ly bear up well if kegged, in the cold­est, fizzi­est way imag­in­able.

We might well pick up a bot­tle if we find our­selves near the brew­ery shop (depend­ing on the price) and, in the unlike­ly event we ever see it in a pub, will cer­tain­ly get one to share. It’s the kind of beer we’d like to see more of in Corn­wall, along­side the ‘every­day drinkers’.

In fact, on that point, it’s sure­ly about time St Austell got them­selves a flag­ship pub or bar which is all about the beer – some­where we could go every week­end and find the lat­est exper­i­ment from the pilot plant, rather than schlep­ping about on pub­lic trans­port try­ing to hunt them down.

We did­n’t schlep any­where to find this: it was sent to us gratis, with­out charge, absolute­ly free, and at no cost to us, by St Austell.

11 thoughts on “South West, not Wild West”

      1. We’re not sure what they think Big Job means, but to us, it sug­gests some­thing toi­let relat­ed.

  1. we had it on draft at Woods a few months ago, it was fab­u­lous and my fel­low drinkers were utter­ly bored with me after a while as I gib­bered on about impe­ri­als et al

  2. When you say, “gratis, with­out charge, absolute­ly free, and at no cost to us” are you try­ing to imply that you didn’t have to pay for it? It’s not quite clear 😛

  3. It would cer­tain­ly bear up well if kegged, in the cold­est, fizzi­est way imag­in­able”

    But why would any­one in their right minds want to do that? Just as flat, warm beer is the down­side of cask, the dows­nide to some (most?) “craft keg” is over-car­bon­a­tion and chill­ing. While the under­ly­ing beer may be many times bet­ter, in terms of taste and mouth­feel that does­n’t get us very much fur­ther from where we were with keg beers 40 years ago.

    How­ev­er, done right (and heads up to the likes of Sum­mer Wine Brew­ery and Port Street Beer House), with notice­able but restrained car­bon­a­tion and chilled, but not freez­ing, beers then “craft keg” can be huge­ly enjoy­able (but then I assume you knew that).

    1. over-car­bon­a­tion and chill­ing”

      Isn’t the ‘over’ bit a mat­ter of taste? We cer­tain­ly think this beer would have tak­en car­bon­a­tion at the top end of the scale, Duv­el-style.

      1. No I don’t think it is. I think Duv­el has a much denser mousse like car­bon­a­tion than you get in your aver­age “draft” “craft keg” which tends to have a loos­er and “spiki­er” car­bon­a­tion in my expe­ri­ence.

        I know some­one was once ridiculed for seem­ing to say there were dif­fer­ent types of CO2. I think what he meant was the tex­ture and mouth­feel from the gas in a bot­tle con­di­tioned beer (Duv­el, for exam­ple) is rather dif­fer­ent from that in a beer (bot­tled or oth­er­wise) that has been force car­bon­at­ed. He was quite right about that in my view.

        There is, I know, a body of opin­ion that says big IPAs are usu­al­ly bet­ter on keg as the CO2 lifts the hops. I don’t agree that is a giv­en across the board (although it cer­tain­ly helps the heavy going crys­tal malt laden Amer­i­can jobs) but over-car­bon­ate and the hops are drowned by the CO2 bite and fizz on the palate. Too many micros dip­ping their toes in the keg field seem to make a pigs ear of that in my opin­ion.

        1. One of the main aspects of an IPA is pre­sum­ably the way it’s deliv­ered and pre­sum­ably bot­tle con­di­tion­ing would be a more ‘authen­tic’ way than a pres­sure keg. On the oth­er hand do you assume that a beer with a long trav­el time can rely on nat­ur­al car­bon­a­tion or, like Guin­ness used to be in the far east, can be deliv­ered ‘flat’ and car­bon­at­ed in situ – that intro­duces a whole oth­er con­sid­er­a­tion, that a beer could mature in tran­sit and be fizzed up at the point of pour­ing?

          How would an Amer­i­can IPA be poured in a bar in the US? I would assume from a keg, so would­n’t it be designed to be at its best with an arti­fi­cial CO2 hit?

          1. Simon,

            Yes, I’m quite sure that Amer­i­can IPAs are designed to be served with a CO2 hit, and also served pret­ty cold, too. I don’t think that negates any­thing I’ve said though.

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