The last of BrewDog’s beer cocktails on offer isn’t really a cocktail at all. It’s separated from the rest of the menu too. Ginger Punk is exactly what it sounds like – a Ginger Beer with Punk IPA.
I do like the addition at the end there – you can add rum for an extra couple of quid, creating a nice little Dark & Stormy. That’s more like a cocktail, but before I try that, I’d like to give the BrewDog ingredient a try, so I opted for the one without rum to start off with. At £4.70, it’s a little more expensive than a pint of Punk.
It comes in a Punk IPA pint glass, more than half-full of ice, frosty on the outside and with a couple of straws a wedge of lime and a lemon slice poking out of the top. I’m glad it’s a large serving, because this is little more than an infused beer. Had it been a similar serving to the other beer cocktails, I’d have thought I’d paid for more beer than I’d received. Had it been a summer’s evening, and not the dark, cold autumn night I ordered it, it would have looked absolutely irresistible. Snuggled in one of the high-backed booths at the back of the bar, it looked a bit counter-intuitive.
It smells of citrus, combining wonderfully with the summery forest smell of wood and pine needles that comes from the delightful Punk IPA. That wonderfully pungent hop resin smell is complimented by the fresh smell of fresh lemon.
Flavour-wise, the ginger is first in the queue. However, it is a very bitter ginger flavour. It isn’t quite spicy or hot, and the honey doesn’t seem to soften the flavour by providing a crucial hit of sweetness. It wasn’t terribly pleasant, but it wasn’t quite off-putting. If anything, it got me ready for the hop bitterness that is instantly recognisable as Punk.
There’s a Berliner Weisse sort of tartness coming from that bitterness combining with the fresh lemon and lime. It is refreshing, but also slightly drying. The finish is of those big hops mingling with the bitter ginger which is pleasant, but it only starts to work after that initial ginger bitterness burst that controls your palate. Not sweet, not spicy and with the worst elements of ginger and none of the best bits.
The mouthfeel is strange. Mostly satiating, but at the back of my tongue feels dry and slightly swollen, with a bitterness that feels as though I’ve licked a tree. The cold from the heavily iced beverage brings out the bitterness of the four pungent hops in Punk, but none of the subtle flavours drinkers have come to know and love.
I didn’t think it was excellent, but it was perfectly drinkable. I don’t think it brought out the best of the IPA, but perhaps the option of adding rum to the mix would change things.
After a quick glance at the bar’s rum selection, I opted for the one that I thought would go best with the ginger.
The caramelly flavours of the Kraken would bring out more of the honey and possibly sweeten the ginger into a more palatable flavour, whilst the gingerbread quality of the spirit and it’s sweet spices would amplify the fresh ginger.
It smelled much the same, but there was a big improvement in the flavour. The flavours were indeed more rounded and the ginger had been softened to the point that it was both sweet and spicy. Plenty of citrus cuts through it to leave a warm tingle in the mouth. The rum provides a hint of boozy warmth, which matches up with that ginger. It makes it a lot more palatable and very drinkable.
There are still patches of bitter IPA that haven’t been shaken out into the drink thoroughly, which provide a stark contrast to the sweetness of the rum, honey and citrus. Those patches aren’t quite as woody anymore, and some of the flavours of grapefruit and the earthy spice of Simcoe start to come through. It’s mostly consistent, and very moreish.
Worth nearly £8? I don’t think so. I still don’t think it brings out the best of Punk IPA, but it is a lovely drink.