There’s a staggering range of craft beer available these days, with more craft breweries than I could care to name, and there are nearly 70 craft breweries in London alone. As a beer enthusiast, I naturally want to try as many new beers from as many different breweries as I can, and in order to be able to do that, I signed up to a subscription with Craft Metropolis which supplies solely beers from breweries in London, so what better place to start than close to home?
I’ll admit that with such a wide range of beers available it’s difficult to know what to choose, but BrewHeadZ Fired Up Donkey struck me for two reasons: 1) It has a funky label – I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover – and 2) the fact it’s a Red Rye IPA, because I love both red ales and rye ales and this has both, so I knew I had to give it a go.
It’s appropriate I should mention the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” because that applies perfectly to Fired Up Donkey. I’m not talking about the label here, but the beer itself. It doesn’t have an awful lot going for it in terms of looks – it’s a very dark red, almost verging on brown, so it’s not the prettiest of beers I’ve drank, and the aroma is fairly lacking as well. It’s got a sweet hoppiness to it, but beyond that there’s not a lot of complexity to the aroma. BrewHeadZ describe the aroma as “a pungent and piney hops aroma” but I can’t really say I agree with them on that one.
Where Fired Up Donkey’s strengths are, however, where it counts and that’s in the flavour. BrewHeadZ say that the “spiciness of the rye is balanced by rich caramel notes”, but for me it had a lot more depth to it than that. Upon first tasting I was struck by a bitterness, which was quickly replaced by the sweet toffee/caramel notes which is accompanied by a nuttiness which makes for a wonderful combination that reminded me an awful lot like peanut brittle. It’s a lovely flavour and makes the beer very drinkable and refreshing despite it feeling quite strong – understandable at 6.6% – with a spicy kick at the end.
All in all, I’d definitely recommend giving Fired Up Donkey a try – it’s my first beer from BrewHeadZ, but based off this experience I’m sure it won’t be the last.
What it lacks in appearance and aroma, Fired Up Donkey more than makes up for in flavour.