Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
I wanted to write an evaluation of the Juicy Banger as having a hand in the creation of this beer has been a fantastic experience for me. I don't, however, really need to as this has already been done ever so eloquently by fellow collaborator Chris Hall and slightly more quixotically in this follow up video by Jonny Garrett of the Craft Beer Channel. Despite already writing a run through of our brew day, which also involved Camden Town Brewery's Sofia De Crescentiis and brewer Pete Brown, I still feel the need to wrap things up, for now at least. This also gives me the opportunity to show you some of the photos I took at the launch night and give you my opinion on how this beer turned out.
Why was brewing this beer such a great experience? Well I've collaborated on brews before but I don't home brew and this was a genuine opportunity to design a beer from the ground up. Each of us had a clear, if perhaps slightly differing, idea of how we wanted this beer to taste and I think the end result was something close to what we had imagined.
We wanted it to be juicy, that was the whole point but we also wanted a big, drying bitterness, the kind that demands you order a second immediately after you drain the dregs of your first. The beer ended up a little stronger than we had hoped, somewhere closer to 7% ABV (this figure differs depending on who you ask) than our target 6.5%. For me it also turned out a little darker than I had hoped for, we're talking a minuscule amount but it didn't have that similar paleness that characterises other juicy bangers such as Kernel IPA or Pressure Drop Pale Fire.
The aroma was remarkable, Camden's penchant for brewing clean, well-attenuated beers was evident. This would've been thanks to the extremely hard working house ale yeast. You could pick out the satsuma laden tang of Amarillo, the lemon pith brightness of Centennial and of course, lots of grapefruit. Like, serious grapefruit. The combination of Citra hops and the grapefruit pith and zest had combined to tremendous effect, the aroma was booming. Before kegging Pete had dry hopped the beer with yet more Citra to really get that aroma singing and it was really cranking out the decibels. The aroma was probably my favourite thing about our beer.
On tasting, the first thing I went looking for was that juicy character we were hoping to achieve and thankfully it was there in spades. The malt profile was perhaps a little too forward for my liking. There was a toffee sweetness similar to that found in Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi (the beer ours drew the most comparisons to on the night) which encroached slightly on the space the juicy flavours had to flex their muscles. I was thankful for that extra malt sweetness by the time the beer reached its finish however. All that grapefruit zest we chucked in at the end of the boil, which still had a lot of pith on it, came to the fore in the form of a big, bitter and slightly astringent finish.
On reflection, it was a probably a little too astringent and slightly unbalanced but I still found it very enjoyable and most importantly, very drinkable. I would've certainly liked to have a few more glasses of it but the only keg was demolished inside thirty-five minutes. Good going team. It was one of those nights that reminds me what a wonderful place the Camden Town Brewery Bar is to be on a Friday Night. So pretty much like every Friday night I spend there. Getting to drink a beer I helped make and then stand on the bar and shouting about it made it all the sweeter though.
Finally, I'd like to give a massive thanks once again to Pete who in reality, stopped a quartet of enthusiasts from brewing something terrible. So thank you, Pete. Now, when do we get to have a go on the big kit?