Origin – United States of America
Style- American Strong Ale
So what is a ‘heretic?’ The Oxford dictionary states ‘strongly opposed to any generally accepted ideas, established beliefs or customs’. But Jamil and Liz Zainasheff, founders of Heretic Brewing Company, which was originally kicked off in the small suburb of Pittsburgh California, and is now located in Fairfield, California approx. halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento, have a different take on it. I’m told this husband and wife team landed on the name because they wanted to make beer that stayed true to the craft and pushed the boundaries of flavours, without submitting to popular demand or trends. However, it’s not only the company name or the beer styles that are unconventional; the story behind the start-up of this brewery in 2011 is also somewhat irregular. Jamil, a microbiologist come software engineer, only realised that home-brewing was an actual thing in 1998 when he struck up a conversation with his neighbour who offered him a home-brewed beer from over the fence. He recalls it was the best beer he’d ever had. After sharing the news with wife Liz, she did what all good wives would do, and she bought him a Mr Beer Kit for Christmas. He pushed beyond that bit that most of us get stuck on, the first 5 batches tasting terrible! and finally brewed a chocolate hazelnut porter that he was happy enough to send off to a local beer competition. Walking away with a bronze he set about perfecting the recipe, and the following year cleaned the pool with an improved version. That same recipe originally brewed from a $50 plastic bucket is now one of Heretic’s best sellers, only beaten to the post by this Evil Twin, which as stated on the label (and I’d have to 150% agree with it) is only evil because it’s too good to resist! Best enjoyed from a glass, this red Indian pale ale has a dark reddish-brown appearance that is topped with a nice frothy head. Sit it below your nose, draw in and you’re immediately hit with an aggressive floral and pine hop aroma, that followers with a soft caramel candy middle, and just a tiny scent of fruity fig and dried cherry. True to the philosophy of brewing beers that push flavour boundaries, a sip of this Twin leaves no doubt of the big malt and bigger hop approach. There’s a mouthful of malts- they’re roasted and earthy, like stone-ground dark chocolate with an edge of burnt sugar, and a face full of hops- pine and grapefruit pith from start to the long bitter finish. For Jamil, it all started with a neighbour, a conversation, a fence and a beer. You could do worse than pass your neighbour one of these over the fence, in fact, don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning with your lawn having been freshly mowed!