Dark Star Belgian IPA

Dark Star Belgian IPA.

A beer claim­ing to be a Bel­gian IPA promis­es a cer­tain com­plex­i­ty that comes from the min­gling of beer cul­tures. Too often, how­ev­er, such beers either resem­ble trag­ic tele­porter acci­dents, or sim­ply get the bal­ance wrong.

But we had high hopes for Dark Star Bel­gian IPA (7.2% ABV, £3.79 per 330ml bot­tle from Noble Green Wines).

Under for­mer head brew­er Mark Tran­ter, Dark Star were ‘ear­ly adopters’ of the sai­son style in the UK, and their Hop­head (3.8%) is not only a favourite of ours, but was also cit­ed by at least one very hip new gen­er­a­tion brew­er as a key influ­ence. If any­one can suc­cess­ful­ly mash up Bel­gian and US influ­ences, we thought, sure­ly it must be this lot?

First impres­sions were of a dis­tinct fat­ness. Rel­a­tive­ly dark in colour (amber, but only a notch away from the dread­ed brown), it rolled around the glass like oil, and remind­ed us (in ‘mouth­feel’ only) of sug­ary, unc­tu­ous desert wine.

It smelled won­der­ful, too – heady and heavy, as if – bear with us – some­one had tak­en a bas­ket­ful of par­tic­u­lar­ly cannabis-like hops into a sauna. (We’ve all done this, right? Right!?)

Beneath the low-lying fog of hops was a sur­pris­ing­ly uncom­pli­cat­ed but pleas­ant apri­cot jam flavour, a bal­anc­ing bit­ter­ness, and a jar­ring black pep­per burn – a harsh note which was the only thing that brought Bel­gium to mind at all, and which we found rather fatigu­ing.

Over­all, we enjoyed it; would rec­om­mend it to fans of big Amer­i­can beers; and would cer­tain­ly buy it again, if only to see if we can find more Bel­gian char­ac­ter next time.

2 thoughts on “Dark Star Belgian IPA

  1. Sounds like a typ­i­cal U.S. IPA/Double IPA pro­file. I’ve noticed the same here, numer­ous Bel­gian IPAs don’t taste Bel­gian. In some cas­es the heavy funky U.S. hop­ping cov­ers over the sig­na­ture Bel­gian yeast taste (e.g. think of the flavour of any Leffe iter­a­tion, or any Chi­may). Not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing for those who nev­er came to terms with that taste…

    1. I always think Bel­gian brewed beers with extra hops make bet­ter ‘Bel­gian IPAs’ than hop­py british (or US) brewed beers using Bel­gian yeast.

      My per­son­al favourite is Hou­blon Chouffe Dobbe­len IPA Tripel – which has the added advan­tage of going sur­pris­ing­ly well with Thai food.

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