Bottled Up: Hopshackle Vertigo VC and VF

Hopshackle - possibly the best English brewer that you've never heard of.

I first discovered Hopshackle beers back in 2008 at the Peterborough CAMRA festival, where a bottle of Restoration blew away darn near everything else. Since then, the Reluctant radar has been tuned into wherever they may surface. Luckily, here in Derby the casks are stocked occasionally by the Smithfield and the Flowerpot so I've been able to enjoy some of Nigel Wright's finest interpretations of historic beer styles with a contemporary twist.

Some of my favourite Hopshackle beers have been the IPAs. Double Momentum is a superb souped-up hopped-out interpretation; Resination takes Stateside inspiration with sappy pine and chunky fruit salad flavours. Now Nigel has turned his hand to something that many world-class brewers aspire to - a range of single-hopped IPAs.

The Vertigo series kicks off with two bottlings. VC - showcasing Cascade - offers resinous pine overlaying soft caramel with a segue into lemon pepper. There's an obvious alcohol edge but it  never overwhelms. VF - for Fuggles - was a real surprise; yes, Fuggles can be honestly hoppy. A warm woody toffee kicks it all off, then pepper starts to cut across the palate with enough tickling pine to keep the overt sweetness in check.

At close to 10%, these are heavyweight IPAs that are well-crafted with subtle touches. With Bobek, Chinook, Magnum, Amarillo and Goldings versions planned, the series looks set for a great future. 

Hopshackle beers are available at The Offie in Leicester and Archie Harwicks Deli in Boston, Lincolnshire. Many thanks to Nigel at Hopshackle for these beers.

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