Beer Review: Buxton Brewery Double Axe
Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Serving: 330ml Bottle
After trying a Buxton beer for the first time just this year (High Tor India Red Ale, in case you’re interested), they have rocketed up in my estimations and have become a contender for my favourite brewery of all. Head Brewer Colin Stronge is a hop-wrangler of the highest order and is churning out great beers with uncompromising, aggressive flavour and unrivaled quality. This time I’m drinking a bottle of Double Axe, which is a double version of their insanely good Axe Edge IPA. When I say double, I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. There is double the malt, double the hops and, craziest of all, double the ABV. This beer weighs in at a colossal 13.6% ABV, easily the strongest double IPA I’ve ever had and only 0.4% weaker than the mighty Anarchist Alchemist TIPA by BrewDog. There’s nothing about this beer that I didn’t like the sound of. As soon as they hit the online shop, I pulled the trigger.
The beer pours slightly darker than Axe Edge with a slightly hazy glowing copper colour. It looks just like you’d want a DIPA to look and just begs for you to dive right in. There was half a finger of white head which vanished almost instantly because of the high ABV. Carbonation was mid to low, again because of the high ABV this was always going to take a hit.
The aroma is sweet juicy tinned fruit like mandarins, peaches and pears. There’s a very ripe grapefruit note there as well. There is also some subtle pine, candied peel and dried apricot. It smells about as good as any double IPA I’ve had. The real surprise on the nose was the lack of much alcohol. It was nearly undetectable among all those sweet citrus and stone fruit notes. At most, it smelled like a 5-6% beer. You can definitely tell this is Axe Edge’s big brother. It has everything that beer has but just… riper. Like two oranges from the same tree but two weeks apart.
Flavour is again dominated by syrupy sweet tinned citrus fruits. I also picked up a very slight medicinal licorice note that wasn’t really bad but not really my cup of tea. The malt backbone is immense here. you get rich, sweet digestive biscuit and sweet pretzel. You really taste all that extra malt. The one disappointing thing in the flavour was the lack of anything sharp to fight against that sweetness leaving the over all flavour ever so slightly dull on the palette. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t as sweet as Williams Double Joker but it’s along those lines. For that reason, I think that Buxton’s Wyoming Sheep Ranch still holds the crown as the UK’s best double IPA in my opinion. As well as all that fruit, you do taste that alcohol on the palette. It’s not a shit load, though, no more than a really good red wine.
The body and mouthfeel are massive! The beer is almost viscous because of all that malt. It coats your mouth like a great single malt whiskey would and leaves a really nice citrus peel bitterness in the finish. All in all, a fantastic DIPA with all the great characteristics of Axe Edge but cranked up to 11 but falling just short of the amazing Wyoming Sheep Ranch.
EDIT: I feel I owe both the brewery and the brewer an apology. Although I did enjoy my first bottle of this beer, as you can tell from the above write-up, something seemed off. Firstly, the bottle was filled about 3cm lower than I would have thought it should be. Second, the flavour was OTT sweet and I know head brewer, Colin Stronge is definitely not a fan of overly sweet IPAs. So my buddy Marc bought me a second bottle when he hit the tap house last week. The beer blew my fucking mind! It is balanced beyond anything you could imagine of a 13.6% beer and the layers of flavour just keep developing as the beer warms. Perfect. I can only guess that something happened to my first bottle. Maybe some air got to it or it was somehow tainted. I’m not mad though. These things happen from time to time, especially when you’re hand crafting a product like this.