beer reviews Beer styles

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 replies on “South West, not Wild West”

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

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

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 😛

“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).

“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.

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.

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?


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.

Comments are closed.