Tasting Notes - Magic Rock Cannonball IPA

Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis

Some beers are so good that they deserve to be written about, fellow bloggers will know what I'm talking about. A beer so good that the aroma alone captivates your senses and you don't even need to take a sip to tell you how brilliant this beer is. You SHOULD take a sip though, I mean that's the whole point of beer but hopefully you understand what I mean, right?

So the beer I'm reviewing today is one of the top three beers I've drank this year, I've already reviewed the other two, Thornbridge Halcyon back at the beginning of August and my champion beer of 2012 Brodies Dalston Black was one of my first ever beer reviews back in February. When I wrote my Golden Pints last week along with these two beers one other beer kept rearing it's hoppy head over and over again, that beer was Magic Rock Cannonball. I've wanted to write about this beer all year but I've avoided it previously as I've mentioned Magic Rock in the blog a lot this year and wanted to avoid brewery favouritism but fuck it, it's my blog so I'll write about what I damn well want to.

I've drank Cannonball on many occasions and it seems to get a even better with each batch, it's comforting to know that the brewery are constantly striving to produce the best beer they possibly can each and every time they brew, it's one of the many reasons Magic Rock have built such a devout following. The marketing they use is simple but highly effective, their labels and pump clips are so well designed and eye catching that Magic Rock beer instantly stands out on the bar. A Magic Rock fan will clock this within seconds of walking into a boozing establishment and will have ordered half a Cannonball before he's even bothered to look at what else is on, well that's certainly what happens to me when I see it anyway. Other simple things the brewery does such as engaging their audience on twitter, arranging various meet the brewer events in great bars around the country (and on the continent) and bizarrely, having a live camera feed of their brewery floor which you can watch on their website. It's all pretty simple, well thought out stuff and it doesn't need to be complicated because the beer does most of the talking, in fact it talks so well that they simply can't make enough beer to satisfy their customers demands but us beer geeks are a pretty needy bunch aren't we.

Cannonball pours a hazy amber tinged shade of straw and produces a sticky off white head that satisfyingly clings to the glass as you slurp. The aroma is bursting with tropical and citrus fruits, think pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit but there is also a sweet hint of honeyed oats which demonstrates how well balanced this beer is even before you take a sip. Cannonball starts off sweet with the bread and honey from the malts combining with mango and passion fruit and as it washes over your taste buds that sweetness turns to bitterness, those grapefruit notes becoming much more pronounced and then being joined by a hit of pine resin. The hop resins lace your mouth as you drink but the beer is balanced in a way so that the beer is in no way cloying, as you swallow the lingering bitterness sucks your mouth dry and you're left feeling satisfied and refreshed all at once. Cannonball is a beer to savour and at 7.4% ABV it should be savoured not slurped but the trouble is that not even the merest hint of alcohol is detectable and so it is near impossible (for me it is actually impossible) not to quaff it down in minutes.

We're lucky to have a beer like Cannonball in the UK, the fact that we can get a beer that goes toe to toe with some of the best IPA coming out of the United States is a Godsend. As brilliant as much of American craft beer is the truth is that much of it doesn't reach us in very good shape, for example I have had a torrid time with Stone IPA this year while everyone else sings its praises I always seem to end up with a malt bomb that tastes like it's been brewed with stewed nettles. Inevitably beer geeks from the States will try to seek out beers like Cannonball, maybe they'll revere it in the same way we praise Ballast Point Sculpin and Russian River Pliny the Elder and maybe they'll end up with a six month old bottle that doesn't do this beer justice before slating it on their blog in the same way I did to Stone IPA, who knows.

All I know is that when Cannonball IPA is fresh it's one of the best damn beers in the world and when I finish the last bottle in my stash I will be sad but probably not for long because I will soon be able to buy some more, happy days.

Happy New Year everyone, thanks for reading :)