Magical Mystery Pour #17: Kirkstall Dissolution Extra IPA

This traditional IPA from Leeds, at 6% ABV, was chosen for us by David Bishop, AKA @broadfordbrewer, who says:

It’s one of those beers that folk regard as an unsung hero of British IPAs.  I think I’ve become accus­tomed to the juicy banger IPAs and often for­get IPAs like this. I drink a fair bit of the cask ver­sion of this beer – the weak­er Dis­so­lu­tion IPA. The Extra IPA comes in an unfash­ion­able 500ml bot­tle, it’s at the malti­er end of the IPA scale, it’s quite strong, and the Rate­bee­ri­ans don’t seem to think much of it, which makes me like it all the more.

We bought our bot­tles from Beer Ritz at £3.28 per 500ml.

(A spot of dis­clo­sure: when we launched our book in Leeds Kirk­stall sup­plied a beer with our names on the pump-clip. They did­n’t pay us, we did­n’t pay them, and we’ve had no deal­ings since. Hav­ing to do this every time gets exhaust­ing but in for a pen­ny, etc.)

We get a lit­tle bit excit­ed about this kind of Eng­lish IPA – not the 20th Cen­tu­ry ver­sion which is gen­er­al­ly indis­tin­guish­able from bit­ter but the revival­ist, retro, BBC cos­tume dra­ma vari­ety. The Protz-Dor­ber sub-style, if you like. They’re gen­er­al­ly made using Eng­lish hops in quan­ti­ties sub­stan­tial enough that you can taste them but with an empha­sis on bit­ter­ness and flavour, rather than extrav­a­gant aro­ma. They don’t demand to be drunk fresh, now, quick­ly, drink me now! In fact, a bit of age often does them good. And, because there are so few around they feel dif­fer­ent and inter­est­ing, suf­fi­cient to tick­le the nov­el­ty recep­tors, while still being root­ed in tra­di­tion.

Kirkstall Dissolution in the glass.

On open­ing the bot­tle we got a whiff of hot mar­malade. After pour­ing, it looked slight­ly hazy, and a rather beau­ti­ful shade of orange. With noses in glass­es we found more mar­malade and orange blos­som, as encoun­tered in the clear syrup they used to sell in our local Turk­ish super­mar­ket in Lon­don.

The ini­tial impres­sion of the taste was more of the same, along with some ripe straw­ber­ry and a gen­er­al hedgerow leafi­ness. We kept talk­ing about oranges but it was­n’t cit­rusy in the sense of bright break­fast juice – more like can­died peel and intense oili­ness. The bit­ter­ness was turned low in the mix but prob­a­bly about right, hold­ing it back from being cloy­ing. It’s a round beer, not a spiky one; robust, not rough; mel­low.

We think it bears a strong resem­blance to Mean­time’s take on his­toric Eng­lish IPA but it’s years since we had a bot­tle of that, and it is pricey these days, as well as being stronger again at 7.4%. Marston’s Old Empire is prob­a­bly the best bud­get alter­na­tive, usu­al­ly avail­able in super­mar­kets for less than £2 a bot­tle and great at its best, though sad­ly vari­able in our expe­ri­ence.

Though we liked Dis­so­lu­tion Extra a lot, and found every mouth­ful demand­ed anoth­er, we don’t quite think it earned its ABV, drink­ing more like a 5% beer. We’d real­ly like to try the weak­er ver­sion David men­tions in his note. Over­all, though, it was a big hit with us and we will prob­a­bly buy it again. If you think these mod­ern IPAs smell like bloody air fresh­en­er, but also think Greene King have a bloody cheek, and so on, then you should def­i­nite­ly give it a try.

There’s only one more MMP post after this in the cur­rent series when we’ll be writ­ing about Wold Top Mar­malade Porter with a side serv­ing of Samuel Smith Tad­dy Porter for ref­er­ence.

7 thoughts on “Magical Mystery Pour #17: Kirkstall Dissolution Extra IPA

  1. Mean­time’s IPA is prob­a­bly my favourite exam­ple of the his­toric British IPA style that’s read­i­ly avail­able, though I can’t agree with you about Marston’s Old Empire. Not a bad beer, but too pale, too one dimen­sion­al and far too ‘clean’ to work in the same way as Mean­time or Kirk­stal­l’s with­in this loose ‘style’. Old Empire tastes more like that daft (but often deli­cious) beer style India Pale Lager to me.

  2. Not tried this one yet , but , I’ve got a lit­tle list and this beer’s on it!!.
    Marston’s Old Empire: Good in both forms in my expe­ri­ence.

  3. Crack­ing beer, OK I live 1/4 mile from brew­ery and also know where I can pick it up at two quid a bot­tle. 🙂 I’d see it as less an old school Eng­lish ipa, more as sit­ting at mid point between that and us ipa tra­di­tion.

  4. I’m always a lit­tle bemused by this sort of reac­tion to Dis Extra. I used to brew it, and can assure that inspite the old timey label, it aspires to be a prop­er US IPA. Amer­i­can and Aussie vari­eties, at least dur­ing my tenure, and high-ish t90 dry hop­ping. I’d agree that it does­n’t achieve that, set­tling for some­thing more pleas­ant­ly mar­mal­a­dy. The very attrac­tive label does seem to have helped estab­lish this old school rep though. One notable beer writer described it as the clos­est thing to cask, in bot­tle. Iron­ic, giv­en that it’s con­tract pack­aged; force carbed and ster­ile fil­tered. As a side note, it’s younger sib­ling, Dis­so­lu­tion is quite a dif­fer­ent beer, but no less new world, in hop terms.

      1. Well quite. Bemuse­ment in the mildest sense, and less at your review (accu­rate, by my lights), than at the ques­tion of what it means to acci­den­tal­ly make an Old School Eng­lish IPA with exclu­sive­ly hens tooth, NW hops.

        1. Well, a lot of the Vic­to­ri­an/Ed­war­dian/pre-WWII recipes Ron Pat­tin­son digs up use Clus­ter, it’s just that they all go in at 20–30-60 min­utes from the end of the boil. I’m no expert on the nuts and bolts but I’d guess that, to make Dis­so­lu­tion Extra taste more Amer­i­can, it’d need less bit­ter­ness, a slight­ly lighter body and a lot more very late or dry-hop­ping. If that’s already going on then the process needs tin­ker­ing with. I also won­der if the Amer­i­can IPAs it’s mod­elled on are the 1990s/2000s ver­sions which, to palates bat­tered by Punk IPA and the like, don’t taste all that dif­fer­ent to old school UK pale ales. (See also: St Austell Prop­er Job.)

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