5th December: Magic Rock Brewing, Clown Juice. 7.0% ABV.
From: Yorkshire, England. Type: India Wit Ale, keg. Source: Craft Beer Co., Clerkenwell, London
“Craft beer is like crack cocaine”, said David as we sat one Wednesday evening in the Craft Beer Co. bar in Leather Lane. We were sipping Magic Rock Clown Juice at the time. I think I know what he meant – with beers like this, it does seem like everything else is on a more ordinary plane.
Stuart Ross and his colleagues at Magic Rock in Huddersfield have been brewing brilliant beers in the craft beer scene since mid 2011. It’s hard to pick just one, but Clown Juice stands out, and it was new (at least to me) this year. Derived from the startpoint of a Belgian wit (white) wheat beer, it’s 7% ABV. Hoegaarden on steroids? or crack, maybe.
With scant regard to conventional style, the thought process the brewers went through must have been something like, “What if we made a Belgian wit, but with India pale ale qualities?” By which they mean an IPA of the new American mode: shed loads of American hops during the brew and during maturation. The result is enormously flavourful and at the same time, as refreshing as any good wit. How did they get that Curacao and coriander to fit in with all those hops?
I’m not a big fan of the name, but it does fit in with the circus, fun-fair themes of their other beers: Human Cannonball, Bearded Lady, Dark Arts, and High Wire. Astonishing brewing.