Hello my friends, and welcome back to the Daily Beard. I’ve got a left-field offering for you tonight, though it could be potentially well-suited for these pre-Spring warm temperatures. It’s B. Nektar’s Evil Genius IPA-Style Mead. Yep, you read that correctly; IPA-style mead. How is it going to taste? Your guess is as good as mine, but if it’s as tasty as their other concoctions have been, I’m leaving myself open to a tongue-pleasing experience. Oh, also, the guy on the label looks a bit like the love child of Rick Moranis and Christopher Lloyd, so if nothing else it has that going on for it. Mead!
The aroma begins as a potently sweet bloom of pine and honey, followed by a kick of bittersweet peach and apple. There’s a bit of a champagne vibe swirling amongst the bouquet – a dryness that carries hints of bright fruit. Floral hints creep in from the sides, adding a touch of hop spice that slip beneath the surface of syrupy sweetness. After the initial breath, notes of orange peel mingle with vaporous pine to add a stronger IPA oomph that mingles with the honey-soaked fruits of the mead. This blending only intensifies as time goes by, as grapefruit and mangoes strap themselves into a car made of pine needles and crash headlong into a wall of apples and honey, culminating in a bittersweet blend of earth, herbs, fruits, and pine. Denying expectation, it smells quite wonderful – dry and fruity with a potent hop kick. Visually it pours a clear, pale gold – with ever-rising bubbles that fade before head formation.
The flavors are quite similar to the aroma. Smooth and thick on the tongue, notes of grapefruit, honey, apples and pine arrive together. The back of the tongue bitterness of an IPA is easily distinguishable, but the usual dryness of an IPA is replaced with a syurpy sweetness that sticks to the inside of the mouth. The fruits team up with the hoppy bitterness to create a sweet yet potent tang at the corners of the cheeks. Peppery hop spicing swirls between the layers of flavor, piggy-backing with notes of ginger to add a biting heat. After the beginning strength, the flavors fade quickly – leaving behind a faint aftertaste of sweet and bitter hop florality.
When I first picked up this bottle of strange brew, I had no idea what to expect. I wanted it to be delicious, but I assumed it would end up a gimmicky abomination, born from a laboratory accident of monumental proportions. I was wrong. This drink was far from horrible. Gimmicky, yes – but tasty in a candied hop flower kind of way. The constant mingling of style-specific strengths (grapefruit and pine to apples and honey) created a little mead engine that could, with the sweet bitterness working its magic until you find yourself nodding at the crazy dude on the label and admitting that sometimes abominations can be tasty. Neither the IPA or the mead seems to take total control of the situation – both have their shining moments, but more often than not, they work together rather than stealing the show. I know not everyone will be a fan, and the already steep price of mead may make even the most adventurous hesitate to buy, but if you feel like a pleasant surprise, go ahead and give it a shot.
I recommend drinking this in the spring and summer months. The sweet yet hoppy profile seems to lend itself to warmer, refreshment-demanding months. It’d go great with your annual pork and chicken cook-off, or any occasion to fire up the grill. Take a leap of faith and give B. Nektar’s Evil Genius IPA Style Mead a try. It earns a solid B in my books, but it could be your new favorite drink.
Lasting Strength: 8.5/10
Overall: 8.3/10 B