So what is a Hard Deck? Is it an imaginary line to stay above or is it something you’re supposed to polish off? In this case, both apply.
I must admit, when I first spoke to the boys from 7 cent Brewery about this beer, my questionable mind patterns went straight to the Cabots Deck Polish advert. But no, it’s actually a Top Gun reference. My bad.
7 cent Brewery, from Gisborne South just north of Melbourne, have had a whirlwind couple of months thanks to an exhausting Good Beer Week schedule coupled with national and international coverage of their limited release Belly Button Beer. Needless to say there were plenty of fluff pieces written. Boom-boom. The 3 partners-in-crime, Doug, Bakes and Bousa are some of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet and their philosophy of throwing all their ideas, passion and yeast propagated from their bodies into their beer is really starting to pay off.
While Australian good beer drinkers have their feet firmly planted in the Pale Ale camp, the India Pale Ale style is quickly catching up so it’s imperative for a small brewery to ensure their IPA is consistent and solid while having a small tweak or character differentiator that sets themselves apart from other IPA’s.
Hard Deck IPA, for me, is that imaginary line that you need to stay above, in that I recommend using this IPA (along with Blackman’s Reginald IPA) as your base and only go up from there. It’s hazy deep amber appearance, pine, tropical citrus aroma and slightly sweet malt finish means it’s also easy to polish off. But no one cares what I think, so in the chaos that was Good Beer Week, I got a chance to have a beer with Bakes from 7 cent and got an educated opinion.
I asked him how Hard Deck came about. “The recipe for Hard Deck is something that 7 cent (and especially Doug) has been working on for years to create the beer that we wanted. What’s important for that beer is the big hop aroma you get as you first bring it up to your mouth, then for the bitterness to linger along that sweet malty body that Hard Deck has. It’s gone really well and is our biggest seller. People are loving flavoursome IPA’s at the moment and Hard Deck gives a great hoppy punch, without being too bitter or one-dimensional in it hop flavour and aroma profile.”
So, if you haven’t explored beyond the Pale Ale boundary, try some Hard Deck. Don’t be shy, everyone should let go of their inhibitions and experiment once in their lives. You never know, you might like it.
While you deal with your internal struggle triggered by that recommendation, the 7 cent guys are going to brew up a heap of Hard Deck IPA and some more rare releases including some limited numbers of the 2016 vintage “Big ‘n’ Beardy”, which is a tasty 10%ABV Russian Imperial Stout, and even less bottles of 2016 vintage “6 fifths”, their 15%ABV Barleywine. Watch out for those! 7 cent Hard Deck IPA is available on tap and bottles around Melbourne and regional Victoria at all good beer venues. Cheers