Be Kind, Rewind
My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable IPA styles, in order:
1) DDH IPAs
2) Classic IPAs
These are the ones that really hit the spot. Can you see your style on that list, English IPAs? I reckon you’d sneak into the top ten, but there’s no place for you in the top 5; those places are reserved for the kind of lupuline and humulone that you just aren’t capable of delivering. That probably sounds crueller than it is meant to, but the fact is you’re too old to make me salivate, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, so don’t take your failure to make the list personally. Those days are gone, and good fucking riddance to them; overly malted IPAs really meant something back then. Now it’s just a drag, like having a cold, or having no money. If you really wanted to endear yourself to me, you should’ve got hoppier.
1. DDH IPAs (2021)
Most nights we used to drink at the park, or on the couch outside, or at the kitchen table at my house. I lived in Brunswick, but I might as well have lived in any suburb in Melbourne; it was that sort of suburb, that sort of park – three minutes away from home, right across the road from a row of shops (an IGA supermarket, a hot chicken shop, a milkbar). You could get a tall can of Mountain Culture’s Be Kind, Rewind, pour it out (a turbid white-gold) and let that aroma punch you in the nose the second you cracked the tin; sweet tropical pineapple and passionfruit and lime. Fluffy white head sits at the top of the glass, just a hair past the silky carbonation of a NEIPA, just a hair shy of the harsh bubble of a classic IPA.
They really could call it just dankness and passionfruit, but that would be omitting some of the more subtle characteristics. I’m usually a bit of a stickler for categories, but part of why I love a DDH IPA is that it blends and blurs and merges, half WCIPA, half NEIPA, half IPA for a beer that is bigger and more robust than any one other. This one treads that line; that fine line between trying to pick and choose, to pluck and adorn characteristics like a bowerbird, never quite hitting one or another style and never quite transcending either. This one manages it. The hops are big, dank and pungent – there is an element like dusty rosemary, even a little of the piquancy of onions. I can only imagine there’s some Mosaic in this one, that oily, vegetal, clusterous little wonder. But they give way to those tropical NEIPA fruits – mangoes and oranges, pawpaw and passionfruit and the ubiquitous citra hop grapefruit.
But all of those lean up against a nice bitterness – not the gentle muzz of a NEIPA, but a strong backbone of hop and lightly sweet malt, like a classic IPA. And if you can prevent yourself from drinking it continuously, you’ll discern a note of nutty richness on your far-back palate, like almonds or walnuts; an unusual but certainly not unwelcome aftertaste just past that enduring lupuloid acridity.
My relationship with the Be Kind, Rewind lasted all of 30 minutes, so I could hardly claim that I got used to having it around. Its absence didn’t fill my heart with aching pain nor my eyes with bitter tears. But as the next day dawns and the slight blush of a hangover fades from my hoary old system, the memory of it lingers, always there, always beckoning me in my thoughts. The significance of that beer was that… well, that it was not significant. It was one in a long line of 7.3% IPAs. But something about it still calls forth from my innermost being, and I can’t stop thinking about it; and that’s the cruellest part of all. That it should be with me for so short of a time, but continue to burn so brightly in my memory.