I had the pleasure of attending all three days at this year’s Hop City, both as a staff member and patron. The quality of IPA on show was extraordinary with some of the most sought-after breweries from near and far in attendance – from Cloudwater and Verdant, representing the best the UK currently has to offer, to Equilibrium and Other Half showcasing fantastic American IPAs.
On my final session of the weekend I made my way to Buxton Brewery‘s stall where I got talking to a member of the bar staff who had served me at their recently opened on-site tap room back in January. I like to think I’m memorable but sometimes you must wonder if it’s for the right reasons… But it’s pretty awesome when people do remember your face and what they served you previously – it highlights their passion and dedication and I’d challenge anyone not to enjoy both the hospitality and the beer at Buxton.
After pleasantries had been exchanged I decided to go for the Axe^X which has double the amount of dry hops than their regular brew of Axe Edge and with 20% of the malt bill now composed of oats which is a work of genius, in my humble opinion. I’ll be honest and say that as I sipped this at Hop City, I didn’t think it stood out from the crowd. I’d had so many IPAs that weekend that I’m surprised there wasn’t a hole in my head where my palate had once lived so to say I wasn’t in the best place to judge anything by that Saturday afternoon is an understatement of epic proportions.
Fast forward to now and I saw a beautiful can standing out from the selection in Raynville Superstore – check it out if you’re in the Leeds area, they have a massive range from modern fuss to classic Belgians via contemporary staples. The can in question was the aforementioned Axe^X and it quickly made its way into the basket, home and then into a glass on a fine Bank Holiday Saturday.
It pours beautifully with a lovely body that lies somewhere between lightly hazy and murk bomb with gorgeous aromas of tropical fruit juice. The taste just takes off and I was tasting sticky, stewed citrus fruits, some stone fruit sharpness and into a long, creamy finish that made this almost seem like a tropical ice cream float. That’ll be those genius oats!
I’m so glad I revisited this beer – something I’m guilty of not doing often in my search for new things. I’m trying to change that around, resampling different variations or aged versions of beers I’ve loved or even beers I didn’t like at first that friends assure me age well. The artwork definitely played a part here – the can screams “science geek” with its school jotter style doodling and recipe titbits. Or maybe that’s just me? Buxton have an instantly recognisable core style of bottles and this is a great little segue into canning.
If you see this around, grab it and find yourself wondering how it tastes so smooth and juicy at a relatively low ABV. It’s a great lighter alternative to the current trend of palate busting hop soup and that creamy finish is something we hope to see more in the future.