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.