I picked up the Ithaca Box of Hops: 12 bottles of four different hoppy beers. I considered writing about them on the blog, and realized I’m most happy with my beer writing when I consider the situation in which I’m drinking the beer. Beer tasting is subjective and influenced by everything from your mood to who you’re with. So, why not lean in to that and listen to a full album while drinking the beer and see what happens?
The music: Amplify Dot, Spare Parts 2 (2013) (available from her website)
Scratching leads off the latest mixtape from Amplify Dot, a queer female UK rapper. The Creeker isn’t too bitter at all, instead featuring the sweetness indicative of its 9% abv.
I dig the beat, as well as the way her voice forms around words. There’s something about British rappers that I love, hearkening back to when I first heard Dizzee Rascal back in 2003.
The flavors in the IPA are incredibly balanced: like DoubleZilla the hops ends abruptly, though a hint of bitterness creeps through like a drafty door, building up over time.
I’m going to be honest: part of me really hoped this was a cover of the Keith Moon sung track from Quadrophenia. I’m out of my element with subgenres of hip hop, so I don’t know quite how to classify this. It sounds like something I’d imagine would play in a club, if I ever were to go in one*.
For being in something called the Box of Hops I expected a bit more of a punch in the face than I’m getting.
I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Sloth’s interjections between songs. That may be par for the course on mixtapes: I confess total ignorance, with the caveat that I’m expanding my horizons. He does have a wonderful North London accent, though, and as I’ve said many times in the past I could listen to a British person read the phone book.
About halfway through the bottle the lingering hops have formed a mob in my mouth. Ah, there you are, I say as they silently glare at me. I’ve been expecting you.
I swirl the beer in the mini goblet, releasing aromatics. My tongue is now fully coated in rich, waxy bitterness. I thought this would be too sweet when I first tasted it but now I can barely get through to the malt at all. I’m enjoying The Creeker much more now, and not just because it’s reached the level of hops that I was expecting. It’s come together much more as I’ve sipped, the citrussy curtain that met me having dropped as the play started.
The album ends with a remix of a song featured on her debut LP, Papercuts (which I would have purchased and listened to had it been available digitally anywhere in the US that I could find. If you know of it, let me know and I’ll be jumping right on it).
Big, booming low tones function as both the bass beat and the melody. Echoey snare hits accompany it, the same kind of banging-on-a-trash-can that can also be found on the completely different Second Stage Turbine Blade from Coheed & Cambria.
My glass, refilled, has reverted to its initial sweetness. The hops are still there, but the malt has risen like a phoenix.
“If you get in a car, and they don’t have this mixtape, get out of the car and slam the door,” Charlie tells us as the mixtape ends. You know what? I agree. This might not be your cup of tea, as Double IPAs might not be, and if so that’s fine. But give them both a try, because they might surprise you.
* As fate would have it, I spent Saturday night at a club!