This review should be taken with a large pinch of salt, this is due to the bottle of Punk X being an unfiltered pre-release version of what is now the the new Punk IPA. A few other bloggers and members of the twiteratti have been drinking the new Punk IPA from cask and keg and it sounds like it’s been filtered, so is no longer cloudy, which probably means the flavours and aromas have changed subtly.
You might be wondering why BrewDog have modified the recipe to what is essentially, their flagship beer. I’ve been wondering the same, it’s not just a drop in ABV from 6% to 5.4%, but the whole flavour profile has changed too. I’ll come back to why I think they’ve done this at the bottom of the post.
I opened both bottles at the same time, mainly so I could switch between them while the taste and aroma were still fresh in my mind. I also took them both through to my wife to get her opinion; she might not like most of the beer I give her to try, but what she does like is generally top notch.
The first striking difference between the two versions was the smell, Punk X was a riot of thick floral notes, intertwined with a load of tropical fruit and just a hint of cat pee at the edges. The old Punk was just straight up resinous lychee, there was only really the one aroma going on.
The riot of floral notes and tropical fruit were also present in the taste of Punk X, it was almost overwhelming. While it was pleasantly bitter, with plenty of lingering tropical fruit in the aftertaste, it didn’t have the same crunching bitterness of the old Punk IPA. The old Punk was far more aggressive, with big up front bitterness that tingled the glands down the side of my throat. It also felt like it has more malt in the taste as well, while that was quickly overpowered with subtle lychee bitterness, new Punk just didn’t feel like it had the same malty backbone, it was all just blousey hop action.
My wife liked the smell of old Punk, lychees she said. She also initially liked the taste, but when the bitterness cut in, she said it was too much and that tasted of bile. She definitely prefered the smell of old Punk, saying that Punk X was maybe to complicated, with too many competing aromas. Taste wise, she thought it was nicer, less like bile, but still not for her.
Coming back to a question I raised earlier, why do I think BrewDog have changed the recipie? I think it all has to do with the manner of dispense that BrewDog are favouring at the moment. While there is no doubt that a lot of their cask offerings are superb, Edge was amazing, they appear to have staked their future on kegged beer and are even going to start canning Punk IPA in the near future.
I just have a feeling that the old Punk IPA didn’t cut it from keg or cans, in a way that they were happy with. With the more blousey flowery tropical nature of the both the aroma and taste, I think it will suit being dispensed from a keg or a can more than from a cask or bottle. Until I can try it on all four means of dispense at the same time to prove this opinion, it’s just that, an opinion.
So what do I actually think of the change? I’m a bit, meh, if I’m honest. I’ve tried the old Punk IPA from cask and bottle and my main gripe has always been the lack of consistency of the taste. No two bottles ever seemed to taste the same, it was very frustrating and one of the reasons why I, sort of, stopped buying it. The Punk X bottles, while enjoyable, has been too flouncy for my tastes, I’d rather all the floral tropicalness was toned down and a bit of crunch added. I’ve not been convinced by it, however, they were unfiltered bottles, so I shouldn’t make a final judgement until I can try an actual production version.
Regardless of what I think, it’s a really brave move by BrewDog to change the recipe and I look forward to trying it from various different forms of dispense later in the year.