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Beer Reviews

Pernicious Weed Double IPA (DIPA), Garage Project, 8% ABV

 

Garage Project, despite its humble beginnings in the relatively small country of New Zealand, has made a fantastic ascension to become one of the most highly-regarded craft beer producers Down Under, if not around the world. Founded by Pete and Ian Gillespie, and Jos Ruffell, Garage Project transformed a disused petrol station, which its name gave a nod to, into a craft beer powerhouse.

Early on, they gained most attention from the craft beer community for their 24/24 project, where they brewed 24 distinct beers over 24 weeks. For 6 months, they had to make a new beer every week, releasing a beer every Tuesday 5pm at a local craft beer bar. Folks who didn't make it in time would painfully miss out. This helped build their cult following, as it also demonstrated their versatility and ability to explore a plethora of styles and flavours. The tagline became "Try something new".

 

The good guys behind New Zealand's cult favorite Garage Project. (Image Source: Beer and Brewer)

 

Garage Project's popularity can be attributed to their daring and experimental approach, which defies common themes and embraces high-frequency new releases.

 

 

Their repertoire spans the entire spectrum of craft beer, often incorporating unconventional techniques, through unique yeast trains, collaborations with other breweries, and the integration of unconventional ingredients like breakfast cereals. This approach was the beginning of a broader trend in the craft beer industry, where craft breweries distinguished themselves through innovation and uniqueness.

 

 

Another cornerstone of Garage Project's success is its active participation with the community, being known for creating some really memorable experiences at beer events and festivals. A notable example that Jos Ruffell shared with me (more on my meeting with him later) is their Two Tap Flat White - comprising two distinct beers, an Imperial Coffee Stout and a Milk Cream Ale poured on nitro, poured into each other to mimic the layers and flavours of a flat white coffee and it even has a latte art foam top. Seriously, you have to watch this video:–

 

 

Serving up such memorable experiences cemented their status in the hearts of craft beer fanatics.

Couple of weeks ago, I went back to one of Singapore's most popular craft beer venues, Orh Gao Taproom. Apart from being another beer guzzling excursion, Jos Ruffell, the co-founder of Garage Project happened to be in town to visit Orh Gao, which recently received several fresh kegs of Garage Project's beers. The kitchen prepared a spread of Peranakan dishes for Jos and Charlie (who runs Orh Gao), and Christian from Bad Decisions Imports. 

 

I've yet to find another craft beer venue on the island that matches Orh Gao in the quality of food served. 

 

Charlie very graciously invited me down to have a chat and interview with Jos himself, and I couldn't pass up this special opportunity. But apart from speaking to these bunch of craft beer legends, I took the opportunity for a couple of quick half-pints of Garage Project's new beers fresh off the tap. 

 

Craft beer pals – Charlie (Orh Gao Taproom), Jos Ruffell (Garage Project), Christian (Bad Decisions Craft Beer Import).

 

Here's my review of the popular Pernicious Weed Double IPA.

It's a classic style. Nothing too fancy here. I'll reproduce the fanciful label for your enjoyment:

The arrival of hops to the brewing scene in England in the 1500s led to a moral panic, hops were described as 'a Wicked, & Pernicious Weed', feared to bring the downfall of civilized society. Thankfully, they were right. Pernicious Weed is a celebration of the NZ-developed hop varieties Nelson Sauvin and Rakau. Huge grapefruit flavour in a worryingly-drinkable strong IPA.

Gruit ale or herb ale, an ancient precursor to beer (Source: Atlas Obscura) 

 

Before the widespread adoption of hops, the alcoholic brews made by the English were very different from what we typically associate with beer today. These older beers were known as 'ales' or 'gruit ales', and were flavoured not with hops, but with a cocktail of herbs and spices instead. Each region even had its own traditional blend, leading to a wide variety of flavors and characteristics. Some herb blends were even medicinal or have psychoactive effects, so although Netflix was not available, a 14th century peasant could get both drunk and high at the same time. 

Ironically, the early English described hops as a "wicked and pernicious weed" while they continued to 'trip balls' on their hallucinogenic herb ales. This aversion to hops was due to the intense bitterness and unfamiliar flavours that it created. Some even believed that hops could have harmful health effects or sedative qualities that lead to social problems. 

 

 

Over time, though, the benefits of hops became inarguable. Hops acted as a natural preservative, extending the shelf life of beers very significantly. It also introduced a range of aromatic, bitter, and fruity flavours to beers and became accepted as a flavouring agent. 

This expression from Garage Project is made as a reminder of the long journey of hops from being a feared "pernicious weed" to an essential ingredient and cherished flavouring agent in classic and modern beers today. The description suggests a huge citrusy component in this one.

Let's give it a taste. 

Pernicious Weed Double IPA (DIPA), Garage Project, 8% ABV – Review

  

Nose: An immediate and punchy aroma of pine needles intertwined with distinct juniper bitterness, giving us a nice evergreen freshness and a herbaceous, leafy hop character. After a few moments it gradually evolves to reveal a subtle hint of grapefruit peels.

Palate: Really hop-forward with a minor tropical character. Opens with an intense hoppy bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit pith, joined by a citric tanginess. Lots of the same piney herbal nuances felt on the nose and then some with sage and rosemary, and a gentle spiciness of anise. It gets a little bit sweeter and juicier towards the second half, with underlying tones of green mango and underripe guava.

Finish: Long, spiced, herbaceous. The finish is remarkably zingy - it's a tingling sensation that pricks the side of your tongue, akin to chewing on perilla leaves and peppermint. The zinginess graduates into an almost peppery sensation felt in the throat.

 

My Thoughts:

Here's a solidly intense DIPA. The appeal lies in its classic, full-on piney, and grassy characteristics that will undoubtedly resonate with hop maniacs.

However, I do feel it leans really heavily on its hop profile, and I'd have personally loved to see more tropical fruit influences in it, like pineapples or ripe mangoes. That said, the grapefruit character on the palate is a welcome touch, while the zesty-almost-spicy quality was a pleasant surprise that enhanced the experience quite a bit.

Rating: 6.5/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie