Mash Brewing – Copycat IPA

I’ve seen people hint at the Copycat IPA being named so in an allusion to Feral’s Hop Hog, with the insinuation that this is an attempt to recreate, or do a version of probably Australia’s most highly regarded IPA.

If this is an attempt to recreate or reference the almost legendary Hop Hog, Mash have failed miserably. This beer is not even close, in colour, aroma, or taste. Whoever said that, was wrong and their palates are broken.

Reading a little about the beer it seems it’s not named for its fellow West Australian, but rather the brewer was reluctant to brew an IPA because everyone else does it.

From the Australian:

That’s why I went out with an English IPA. I thought that would be a nice point of difference as every man and his dog is producing an American IPA. I didn’t really want to have to follow the crowd but then we felt like we had to because we were getting a little bit left behind. Everyone was raving on about someone else’s American IPA.

I still think it’s one of the biggest myths in Australian brewing – that there is an abundance of IPAs, and I still think the “this is not an IPA-ale” is one of Australia’s leading styles.  That is slowly changing and we are seeing a reasonable array of IPAs on the market.

However, there aren’t a heap that I really like. Many are hop forward with no real thought. Big for the sake of being big, and kind of unpleasant to drink. I think a lot of these are sliding along on the slippery floor of beer excitement but when palates change and the floor gets sticky, I fear a lot of breweries may start getting splinters.

What am I even talking about?

Back to the beer.

I said it doesn’t even come close to approximating Hop Hog. Which some might take as a bad thing – because Hop Hog is delicious. But this is an entirely different thing all together. Where Hop Hog takes a piece from both the pale ale and IPA pies (with a heavy foot in the pale camp), this is darker, sweeter, and all around much bigger than Hop Hog. They are simply different beers and thus the comparison should stop here.

20141106_175925The Basics

http://mashbrewing.com/index.php/beer

An American style IPA, as mentioned Mash are based in Western Australia but also brew for the East Coast at 3 Ravens brewery in Melbourne. This enables them to not need to ship beers across this rather large country in order for us East Coast residents to enjoy.

This one was brewed originally as a one-off, but given the excitement, and awards  (it picked up the Champion Australian Beer trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards), it appears as though it might become a regular thing.

6.8%, and around 70IBU, it’s a reasonably big beer.

How does it look?

The label art is of some sort of panther… thing. His back half is missing so he might be standing on his hind quarters. I’m not sure. He’s cat related though, and I like it. It definitely stands out and was done by artist “Heesco”. You can learn more about him here: http://www.heesco.com/

It’s part of their Illustrated Artists Series, where Mash get local artists to design the labels for one-off beers. A fun way to present packaged beer.

In the glass it is rusty orange, not completely clear but not murky. It’s lively and has a reasonable head.

How does it smell/taste 20141106_180003

It smells like sticky late-season mangoes. Not those pale, sickly or tasteless mangoes you get from the supermarket, but real juicy tropical ones. There is also a big hit of passionfruit and you almost expect to crunch a seed at any moment.

The taste is of tropical fruit salad, passionfruit icecream, brown sugar and caramel, with a rising bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm but just bites your palate as everything dries up.

Refreshing but staunch, this beer, even up at 6.8% never feels claggy or cloying. Your palate doesn’t tire of it and I really think I could drink this all day.

So much so, that it’s become my fridge beer of choice. I want to always have this beer on hand and knowing I only have two left gives me that “when can I get more” pang.

The Verdict

Australia’s best IPA? It could be the best I’ve tried recently. And in all honesty I wanted to hate it. I’m a bit of a jerk and when I see an IPA winning awards I get skeptical. Beer awards are notorious for awarding some less than exciting beers (yeah, yeah it’s all about style, and hitting the numbers, I know).

And admittedly the first time I tried it I thought “eh”… then after half a glass I was hooked. I’ve since picked it up 3 or 4 more times, which is almost unheard of in our household.

I hope this sticks around because it really is the kind of beer that I want to lead the next wave of Australian beer.

It shows that the avoidance of brewing IPAs is a bit silly, and the buzz from both awards and buyers shows that Australia wants IPAs. I’m glad Mash stopped avoiding them and decided to become copy cats.

Also try

Burleigh – Figjam. The quiet achievers of Australian beer, their Figjam is a lovely IPA that suits hot weather with great drinkability but also is extremely tasty.

Liberty – Citra. Out of NZ, this showcases Citra hops in an extreme way. This Double IPA is massive in every sense, but like the Copycat, is extremely drinkable and moreish.

Modus Operandi – Former Tenant. Recently crowned Australia’s best beer and Champion Small Brewery, this relatively new operation in NSW is gaining some early attention. Another leader of this new wave of Australian beer.

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  1. I really like the Copycat IPA although along with a few of the other popular WA IPAs at present has contributed to my stepping back from the hop-forward beers to give my palate some respite.

    Out of your recommendations I have only tried the Citra which is amazing – Liberty do some absolute cracker beers.

    Keen to try Modus Operandi to see what all the fuss is about

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