Shipwright Imperial IPA

Shipwright Imperial British IPA
1 16 oz bottle, $7.49, 8.62% ABV

Purchased at Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits

shipIf I collected beer bottles, cans, and/or labels, I’d proudly display this one front and center. I’ve never really fully grasped what that is a picture of.

A squid with boobs? A cuttlefish with bulging eyes? Why is it strangely sexy? Like many of Relic’s beers, this label is odd and different – in a good way.

I should also note that I think this may have been the only Relic beer sold in this off-sized bottle with greenish glass. (This was a rather early Relic release.)

I should also note that I’m not all that familiar with true English IPA’s, let alone Relic’s treatment of them. If this was a true representation of the style, then English IPA’s are maltier than we are used to here – which is perfectly fine.

Relic Says:

“This regal IPA is loaded with a blend of high Alpha English hops and British classics like Goldings and Fuggles. Just the right amount of crystal malts helps to keep the ship in balance.”

Ah. English hops and yes, like I said, more malt than an American IPA would have.

When I bought this, Mark from Relic “warned” me that this batch was potentially over-carbonated. He spoke the truth. Big, active, lacey bubbles greeted me upon opening, but settled quickly. I blame the sea-monster.

Or maybe… maybe it didn’t ship right. Ahem.

446octonauts2When I approach Relic beers, I bring a different mindset. (Like the Octonauts here. The Octonauts don’t give a crap what you think a children’s book series should be like. And I love the Octonauts, especially when they are cool with large breasted sea creatures.) I never really have a comparison in mind when I drink them. Mark is a unique man who is not afraid to do things his way. This is what works for him. Most times it works for me, a few times it doesn’t.

But so what, right? That’s what makes beer and wine and food fun! In the case of the Shipwright, it worked. it worked very, very well. Much sweeter than the IPA’s we are more familiar with (thanks malts!) and even with a bit of yeast behind the scenes (this being Relic, after all.)

I enjoyed this beer quite a bit; just wish the carbonation had been tamed a bit more. I know Mark hates when I say what I’m about to say, and I’ll keep saying it because I feel I must: I’m all for experimentation and variety, but I’m also a proponent of (good) flagships and recurring beers. Beers that I can point to and say, “hey friends not familiar with this brewery, try this, this and this! They are available most of the time and they are not only very good, they are representative of the brewery’s style.”

Mark and Relic don’t really allow me to do that too much. Shipwright has been released what? Once? Maybe (probably) twice since the brewery was opened? It’s not like there are other English IPA’s in the Connecticut marketplace (especially now that Cavalry is dead and gone), so I would include this one in the five beers I’d hypothetically brew every two months if I ran the show in Plainville.

But, alas, I don’t. Mark has a plan, and we’re just along for the ride. And in the end, I’m happy for a seat.

Overall Rating: B+
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a

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