Brew Review – Flying Dog and Brew Dog, Internation Arms Race (Zero IBU IPA)

Flying Dog’s Zero IBU IPA

Angela at work stops in every now and then to talk music and beer.  Her and her husband enjoy good craft beer, so it’s always fun to chat for a few minutes when we can and compare notes notes on what we’ve had.  We were having such a conversation today when she stopped me in my tracks.

“Have you tried Flying Dog’s Zero IBU beer?”

“Wait?  What?  Zero IBU?”

“Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called.”

“So it has no bitterness?  How is it?”


Well I’m all about weird, so let’s taste.

THEM:  Zero IBU IPA is the result of a “collaboration” between Flying Dog Brewery and BrewDog from Scotland.  Collaboration is in quotes because the two breweries didn’t come together to brew this beer as in the normal sense of the word.  What they did was come together and agree on a list of ingredients that each brewer would then use to brew their own version of the beer.  Outside of only using the agreed upon ingredients, anything was game as far as recipe or process.  The list of ingredients that they picked were: spearmint, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries, and elderflower.  You’ll notice hops are not on the list.

Brewing beer without hops is not unheard of, in fact in the long standing history of fermented grain beverages, hops are a relative new comer to the party.  Fraoch, another beer from Scotland, is brewed with heather (and a favorite of mine).  In ancient Europe Gruit, a fermented drink flavored with Yarrow, Bog Myrtle, and Marsh Rosemary was common.

Today, many breweries use spices to give certain beers flavor and aroma outside of the more normal hops, but most of these at the very least still use hops to give the beer it’s now signature bitterness.


ME:  Zero pours a beautiful amber with a nice white head.  The carbination in this beer is very active and it keeps a nice layer of foam like bubbles on the top  as you drink.  The nose on this puppy is all spice.  Notes of mint, juniper and a spruce type scent (I’m assuming that’s the Rosemary peaking through and getting muddled with everything else in my nose) come up from the glass.  But it’s in the taste that this beer really takes a turn.  It starts with a surprising lack of malt in the front and then tickles your taste buds with the aforementioned spices.  Really, the spices are there, but not all that overwhelming.  And then….nothing.  And I mean really nothing.  Well, that is until you finish about half the glass, and then the nothingness is replaced by an odd after taste.  And then that odd taste turns into (for me) a juniper mouth coating, like the morning after sensory memory of an all night gin binge.

Yeah, probably shouldn’t have ordered those last two martinis “dirty”.

I think the thing that surprises me the most about Zero IBU IPA is how light in overall flavor it is considering that Flying Dog isn’t normally shy when it comes to putting flavor in their beers.  This one is interesting, but just not my type of thing.  I don’t normally rate beers, but if I were to do it just this once, I would rate this “ask for a free taste when you see it on draft” on a scale of “walk past it on the shelf” and “buy all you can get your hands on”.

Time for another beer.

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