I first encountered the brew during a very, very pleasant afternoon’s drinking with a good friend at a bar in London’s Docklands. Don’t picture a grimy bar frequented by tattooed stevedores (teamsters), these days London’s docklands are a glossy financial mecca.
That was the summer of 2011 and a few months later I sourced some bottled Jaipur for an objective tasting at home, little realising that Jaipur had first been brewed in Bakewell some six years earlier, in 2005.
It was originally named ‘Mystery Blonde’ and brewed by Martin Dickie, who went on to found Brewdog. I think I prefer ‘Jaipur’, it reflects the brews IPA heritage, and sounds less like a Peter André single!
I maintain it’s one of the finest beers brewed in Britain today, there are always a couple of bottles (along with Thornbridge’s equally quaffable Kipling) in my beer fridge.
Well, 2015 marks Thornbridge’s 10th anniversary, and over those ten years they’ve won more than 350 national and international awards.
To commemorate their 10th anniversary, they’ve launched Jaipur X – an Imperial Jaipur brewed to no less than 10% ABV.
How could I resist?
Well, I couldn’t.
I ordered a case within an hour of it hitting the Thornbridge website – it sold out within hours – and a couple of days later a case was delivered to darkest Essex.
There’s little from the brew’s appearance to differentiate it, from ‘regular’ Jaipur. The label is slightly more flamboyant, but the beer and head look familiar to anyone who’s tried the original. It’s perhaps slightly darker, but only slightly.
The nose is primarily pine resin and honey, very little citrus, it’s as though any citrus has been scared away.
The flavour? Well the citrus is still prevalent in the flavour, mango and lime notes nestle in the sweet, almost cloying honey. That’s when the alcohol kicks in and almost stuns your palate.
There’s no mistaking that this is both Jaipur, and very, very strong; an epic brew.
It’s not a barley wine or ‘winter warmer’, it’s very much an Imperial IPA, and very drinkable, with caution.
Let’s be honest, we’re venturing into ‘wine’ potency here; very few beers outside Belgium venture into this territory. And those Belgian brews tend to be ramped with candy sugars, a very distinctive taste, and thankfully it’s absent here.
I bought a dozen bottles of Jaipur X, and while I’m going to be sharing some with friends, I’m going to try and keep a bottle or two back for a while and spend a quiet evening exploring Thornbridge’s IPA offerings, from AM:PM through Jaipur and Halcyon, finishing with Jaipur X. Watch this space.
As for rating this beer? It’s difficult; it’s almost like when Springsteen released ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ after a gap of three years. It’s more than a beer; it’s both an event and a beer.
Tim Hampson – the chairman of the British Guild of Beer writers tweeted “Thank you Thornbridge for a fabulous 10 years. It’s been a blast. The Jaipur X is unbelievably good.” Adrian Tierney-Jones, author of ‘1001 Beers you must try before you die’ responded “It is indeed, an incredible guitar solo that seemed to encompass hop succulence, restraint and then outrage all in one glass.”
Oh… and my rating? Like ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, it just has to be five stars, were you expecting anything less?
Thornbridge’s slogan has always been “Innovation, Passion, Knowledge’ – this year they’ve added ‘Never Ordinary’.
I can’t disagree, and I can only hope I’m still around to see what they brew for their 25th anniversary.