“Portsmouth has the most pubs per square metre than any other city in the UK”. I have always wondered how true this frequently quoted adage was. Okay, so we are a pretty densely populated city, and we do enjoy a rather impressive naval history. Combine these factors and the outcome was always going to be drinking holes on every corner, ready to sate the unquenchable thirst of both locals and sailors alike. Of course, pubs are nothing without the breweries that supply them, and between 1784 and 1847 there was a record 90 breweries in Portsmouth alone. Fast forward to 2014 and our city is a slightly different place; the historical breweries are long gone, either despatched by the profitable housing industry or bought out and shut down by some drinks company in Chiswick.
However all is not lost, and thanks in part to the craft beer revolution, the sounds of production have started again. We are already familiar with local stalwarts such as Irving & Co, Oakleaf across the water in Gosport and the new kid on the block Brewhouse. Yet quietly creeping into the fridges of choice pubs are the dinosaur labelled bottles of Staggeringly Good. Conceived as refreshments for stag do’s, born from the loins of the Brewhouse equipment and premiered at last year’s Portsmouth Beer Festival, Staggeringly Good is here to bring you a whole new spin on the classic Indian Pale Ale. From the kaffir lime leaves of the ThaiRannoCitrus, through to the smoked heat of Extinction Black and the deep flavour of it’s newest creation the VelociRapture. Going for a night out? You can find Staggeringly Good in The Leopold, The Belle Isle, The Hole In The Wall and other forward thinking establishments. Going to a party? Cases of 12 bottles are available to buy online from their webshop, with free delivery in the Portsmouth area. I sat down with local IPA connoisseur Gareth Colwell to selflessly deconstruct these beers on your behalf.
StaggerSaurus IPA (4%):
The first and the original, this one is a pretty straight forward affair: the perfect session IPA, it’s gentle bitterness ideal for a summer BBQ or the first drinks of your night out.
Thai themed beers are a bit marmitey; you either go for them or you don’t. In this case SG have shifted the focus on subtle kaffir lime leaves rather than punches of coriander and lemongrass. The notes of peach and lime would be the perfect accompaniment for any coconut based spicy curry dish. Would be great to see these in the Albert Road curry houses.
Extinction Black Chilli IPA (5.7%):
One for the chilli heads, the Extinction Black comes in two forms: the black caps which packs a huge scotch bonnet punch and the red cap which is a milder more smokey version. In fact this one isn’t a million miles away from a decent smoked porter, the fruity chilliness lingers pleasantly at the back of the throat. Good with a hunk of mature cheese I reckon.
VelociRapture American IPA (6.5%):
Repent all sinners! SG’s newest and boldest creation includes strong bursts of grapefruit and citrus. This West Coast influenced homage to Sierra Nevada is, in our opinion, the pick of the crop. It’s clean after-taste definitively makes it a choice beer for end-times.