International Arms Race

International Arms RaceInternational Arms Race
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
3.28 | pDev: 20.43%
Scotland, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
International Arms RaceInternational Arms Race
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 64
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.65/5  rDev +11.3%

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #70 (November 2012):

"An IPA with no hops by two breweries separated by sea?" Yes, that's the challenge between BrewDog and Flying Dog; a zero IBU IPA. Instead of hops, spearmint, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries and elderflower were used to impart bitterness. Unfortunately BrewDog forgot to take "hops" off their label, calling this an IPA was a mistake and they missed an opportunity to educate the masses about this interestingly complex no hop beer.

STYLE: Gruit
ABV: 7.5%

LOOK: Bright copper, creamy tight lacing

SMELL: Bitters, minty, floral, herbal, rosemary, wet hay

TASTE: Smooth, medium-bodied, semi-chewy, malty sweet, banana, juniper, spicy, spearmint, bitter herbs, leafy, earthy, woody, dry, grainy finish

 785 characters

Photo of SHODriver
3.5/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured into an IPA glass to a nice gold hue that's a little cloudy and topped by a finger of dense slightly off white head that fades fairly quickly
S: smells very herbal with a bit of pine. It smells like potpourri.
T: taste is very herbal and tea like with a slight honey sweetness. swallow brings more herbs and a bit of a medicinal taste that's a little fruity
M: this beer is on the lighter side of medium with prickly carbonation and a drying finish
O: very funky for an IPA, but it appears to be spot on for a Gruit. It isn't terrible but it's very different but you have to be expecting different.

 609 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.74/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Paid about 3 bucks for the single. Seeing it retired I now know it's an old bottle. Still I have not had many to the style.
A - Well it looks like beer hazy honey amber color with a 1/4 inch of head that dissipates before I can even type this sentence. Not much lace.
S - Wow is that herbal and woody! I have not experienced such an intense smell. Like a garden of fresh blueberries and blackberries meets flowers and cinnamon.
T - The taste not so intense. Pretty much as others described like an alcoholic herbal tea. Some cinnamon. Some fruit. Mostly honey sweetness.
M - It's thin but not watery the ABV really clings to the palate masking the body of actual beer.

Well this was quite a tasty find. Leave it to brewdog to make a Scottish Gruit that taste like actual beer. Even the herbs seem to take a backseat after aging. Worth picking up I guess.

 856 characters

Photo of longjohnsilver
3.96/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer shows a decent cream colored head on top of a light amber body, which is a tiny bit hazy.

A honey sweetness lays down the base layer which is complemented by the appearance, which is also very reminiscent of honey. It smells a bit like clover and blueberries, and overall this is the secondary flavor. There is very little in the way of bitterness, except as added by the carbonation.

The beer drinks like an easy walk through a rose garden in the summer, the easy-going sweetness is like 2 teaspoons of sugar in a tall glass of iced tea.

If more standard IPA's took this well balanced approach to the malt then I would be happier to try more of them.

 663 characters

Photo of Flounder57
3.55/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a small head that reduced to nothing. It is a pale orange color with good clarity and bubbles seen coming up through the glass.

Smell: Herbal, spicy, caramel, bready, malts, and tea.

Taste: Caramel, toasted, clove, ginger, tea like, chai, brown sugar, and a bunch more I just can't explain.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, a little chewy, spicy, low carbonation, mild tingly sensation, and medium bodied. One you get past all the herbal flavors, this beer is extremely drinkable.

Overall: Before hops, this was it folks. I think I could have become accustomed to this style back several hundred years ago.

 671 characters

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

ST: 12oz poured into a pint glass.

A: Looks like iced tea. In the light, it has some red tints. The head is average and leaves spotty lacing.

S: Very interesting and spicy aroma. Dark fruit, clove, malty.

T: Sadly, not all the elements of the interesting aroma are present in the taste. Some malt, some brown sugar, some raisin, some hint of allspice.

M: Medium and flat.

O: Very interesting to the nose, but not successful in the taste.

 442 characters

Photo of jtierney89
3.5/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Semi-Hazed orange hue with a orange tinted vanilla head. Smells like a scotch ale. Heavy malts on the nose, butterscotch and caramel.

Sweet and very herbal/medicinal. Sweet berry flavors up front along with some malt. Berry flavor rolls through to the mid-palate where the herbal flavors take over. Piney and medical finish. Finishes dry with pale malts and faint berry like sweetness lingers on the tongue. Touch of alcohol heat. Doesn't taste like an IPA in the least but I liked it better then flying dogs version. As an IPA crap, as a Scottish gruit, very good.

 566 characters

Photo of shand
4.06/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've gotta say, I'm expecting mediocrity here, but the concept interested me enough to give it a try. International Arms Race pours a hazy orange color with a tiny head. The aroma - I can see how they're trying to approximate the aroma of an IPA with the herbs and spices. It doesn't quite make it there, but I can see the resemblance. And, it smells good without comparing it to the IPA, there's distinct spicy and floral aromas that are very nice. The taste is actually remarkably close to the structure of an IPA. Especially at first, where citrus and floral dominate. A strong spicing on the backend tries to approximate the bitterness, which doesn't quite parallel the bitter hop kick of an IPA, but I can see what they were trying to do. Again, it's still a tasty herb/spice beer when completely knocking the notion of an IPA out of my head.

 847 characters

Photo of MCain04
3.37/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle courtesy of BostonRyan, shared as part of a 7 part tasting for the night. poured into a Tulip glass from a 12 oz bottle and reviewed from memory and notes.

A: medium amber clear body with small off white head. moderate to minimal lacing and retention.

S: smells spicy, can't pick out individual scents but distinct absence of floral, pine or citrus hops is striking.

T: In one word: potpourri. like a medley of spices, this is what an IPA would be like if you dumped your spice rack into the mash instead of hops. unique for sure.

M: medium carbonation, light body, west finish.

O: Happy to have tried it but won't imbibe a second time. A cool idea, but beer without hops is not a beer I'm interested in.

 721 characters

Photo of bark
2.7/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

The colour is amber (20 EBC), the liquid is clear. The off-white head quickly sinks with a fizzing sound leaving no lacing.

The smell is spicy and dry, reminding more of an after shave than a beer. Some bitterness, notes of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Perfumed notes of mint and pine needles. Very Christmas-y.

The taste is very dry and heavily spiced. It tastes like taking a walk in the fragrance department of a tax free store. Nuts, nutmeg, flowers, cloves, more flowers. Light body. The aftertaste is even more perfumed and somewhat bitter. The finish is fat, dry (astringent) and semi-sweet with growing notes of juniper-berries and -twigs.

The carbonation is fresh, the bubbles short-lived. The liquid is dry, almost harsh.

More interesting as a concept and experiment than a beer.

 797 characters

Photo of sennin
3.51/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a pint glass on February 27th, 2013.

This beer by BrewDog was made as collaboration between them and Flying Dog Brewery. The collaboration was comically labeled, “International Arms Race” and was supposedly meant to create an IPA that actually contains no hops.

Appearance: Very light, much more than I am use to seeing in most IPA’s, almost looks more like a Belgian Wheat than an IPA. There is not much in the way of head after the pour- foam is lacking and there isn’t much in the way of lacing. Somewhat standard but gets points for its rather unique look.

Smell: Very much smells like Arcadia Ales’ “Jaw Jacker” seasonal. However this beer has an immense bouquet of berries, such as blueberry and strawberry. But I also smell other fruits such as peach, grape, and even cherry. There is also a gingery and a peppery scent in there as well, which complements the other smells quite well. Hop scents are not really present. This would make sense considering that the beer is advertised as a brew made with roots, berries, and herbs and no hops.

Taste: It is not as sweet as I was expecting, but the fruits are definitely there, first taste seems to be of oranges and peaches with a grape taste joining strongly on the backend. The gingery and pepper notes are consistently present in the taste but never overwhelming and seem to complement the fruits quite well. Interestingly, the peppery taste becomes much stronger in between sips. Quite good, but in the end, it’s really not very complex and does not develop at all throughout the tasting session. Although, there is something of an unpleasant syrup-like taste that develops as the drinking session goes on. Also, fair warning- this tastes nothing like an IPA, I can’t even taste any bitterness in this, nor any alcohol, which is impressive considering it is 7.5% ABV.

Mouth Feel: Smooth and silky, but bland. Very average mouth feel and has nowhere near the sort of texture that other peppery/herbal brews like Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Route Des Épices has. It’s quite lacking in this department and honestly doesn’t feel much different to me than a low-tier beer like Budweiser.

In the end, the smell of this brew is quite captivating, but everything else is quite average and quite below what I usually expect from BrewDog. Don’t be fooled either, this is not an IPA, I am almost confused as to why this can even be labeled an IPA considering how lacking it is in texture as well as bitterness. It’s worth a try, sure. But don’t kill yourself trying to seek it out either.

 2,586 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
2.91/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash chalice.

Appearance - Clear deep orange body. Nice white head. Chunky bubbles in a lopsided collar.

Smell - Spicy and herbal. I'm not good at this, but I think it's cumin or cardamom. Floral notes as well. Alcohol comes through too.

Taste - Equally dominated by spice. Lots of malt here too, though. Sweet and floral. Less intense on the herbal character. Bitter finish, but obviously not a hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Surprisingly alcoholic. Maybe it's the lack of hop flavor that intensifies it. Sweet and medium low carbonation.

Overall - The smell is much more interesting than any other part. A gimmick not really worth the endeavor.

 681 characters

Photo of ckollias
3.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours an orange-amber hue with a thick, two-finger, white head that quickly dissipates into a wispy lace leaving no trail down the side of the glass.

S: Fruity aroma with a sweet background.

T: Smooth and slightly sweet flavor with a decent dark fruit and herb backbone.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Interesting beer – I wouldn’t really call it an IPA though. Tastes more like a mild fruit beer. Overall, it was tasty – and worthy of a try.

 523 characters

Photo of jmaharaj
2.75/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy burnt orange, with a fleeting thin white head. An average looking beer.
I think one has too keep in mind that although it does say zero ibu ipa, they arent trying to recreate hops they are trying to create bitterness and as such this smells nothing like an ipa. It smells more like a herbed belgian. Lavender, rosemary, maybe a touch of thyme. Frankly it smells underdeveloped, like a sweet malty herbed juice. Taste is similar, a confusing mash of herbs and spices very little malt complexity. Short and unitersting. Mouthfeels is a little syrupy and dull. dont really want to drink the rest of this. Tastes like the local natural foods store smells (good at the store, not so great in a beer).
An interesting experiment, with underwhelming results.

 765 characters

Photo of Redteketed
2.68/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear amber colored, with a small head that slowly diminish.
The smell has lots of herbs and some flowery elements.
The taste follows the smell and is a bit sweet.
The mouth feel is a bit dry, the body is light, not much of and aftertaste, little sweet and herbs.
Overall: Not my cup of tea, but a daring experiment. By the way, didn’t like the Flying Dog version either.

 374 characters

Photo of FLima
3.47/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber color. Mild aroma of caramel and herbs and maybe juniper berries.
In its flavor, mild hoppy impression giving an herbal and fruity flavor, with apple and ginger notes and caramel.
Very interesting that no hops were used for this brew but tasted mildly hoppy. Off course this is not an IPA or even an APA. Also, amazing the fact that is a 7.5% ABV and it doesn’t showed up as one would expect.

 400 characters

Photo of MisledTitan
4.17/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is my first time posting a review on beer advocate so here we go.
Appearance: clear Golden/reddish body with a white head decently active.
Smell: Spicy notes almost nutmeg/clove like with a hint of berries, the nose is similar to some pumpkin spiced beers.
Taste: Cinnamon and nutmeg tastes upfront with just a hint of berry and slight spicy finish
Mouthfeel: Light body but well carbonated.
Overall: a fantastic spiced beer but it defiantly is not what its billed to be, a zero hopped IPA. As a beer it is good and I would like to see more breweries pushing this zero hopped concept because i believe it has potential.

 627 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.79/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a copper color with a decent looking head on it. The head settles and doesn't leave any retention or lacing behind. The smell of the beer reminds me of a Scottish Gruit ale, there are sweet notes of honey in there with the herbal aromas and even some fresh berries. The taste again reminded me of a Gruit blend, some herbal/floral flavors as well has a berry-like sweetness in there too. The mouthfeel is lightly carbonated with a light to medium body. Overall it's a neat beer for sure, I'm glad I got to try it.

 537 characters

Photo of soulgrowl
2.91/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Lovely, rich caramel in color with an okay head, slightly stained ivory with big bubbles and poor retention. Aroma is a really weird mix of bay leaf and Moxie cola. Very weird, and there's something quite medicinal about it as well, something I can't quite put my finger on – but it smells like something out of a Chinese apothecary, or maybe that's just that it has a hint of Shaoxing wine-like musty sweetness. Odd.

Sharp and dry, super-attenuated, no doubt in attempts to limit sweetness that doesn't have hops for bittering. They've obviously used some sort of funky bouquet garni in their place, so this tastes quite a bit like thyme, sage, and bay, but there isn't really any bitterness to speak of. Balance is achieved by lively carbonation, a dry finish, and an alcohol presence that punches above its weight, almost with the feeling of a quadrupel. As for the flavor there's a good amount of straight-up caramel, some faint fennel, and brandy. Again, odd.

It's not good, but at least it's interesting. I had the Flying Dog version and it was much nicer, much more drinkable – this tastes more like something you'd use to marinate chicken than something you'd drink. Worth a try, I suppose, but there are better herbed beers around.

 1,246 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

reddish amber with a bubbly, thumnb sized head that settles to a thin lacing around the edges quite quickly.

Fruity to begin with a lot of berries and sweetness plus some raspberries and floral notes with a touch of spice. There is some citrus and a bit of ginger towards the end as well but overall it is relatively light on the nose.

Dry tasting with a lot of bitterness and a mix of berries and floral flavours with a strong ginger and floral finish backed up by some spice.

Incredibly dry on the palate with a medium body and a quite bitter yet crisp finish that is slightly grainy and with low carbonation.

A pretty average beer , there is good depth and lots going on but the taste and palate were just far too dry for my liking & certainly not one of Brewdogs better offerings.

 788 characters

Photo of dgilks
3.22/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very clear copper colour with no real head. What small head there is dissipates quickly.

Slightly spicy with some notes of bay and spruce. Nothing amazing. Slightly sweeter than the Flying Dog version.

Sweet malt which supports a cinnamon and bay infused flavour. Some pine. Very much like the Flying Dog version though a little sweeter. Not at all IPA like.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Fine.

An interesting beer and one I'm glad to have tried. Not at all an IPA.

 478 characters

Photo of Arborescence
4.14/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Copper, clear. Not much of head.

Aroma: Juniper, herbs, fresh. Like an aromatic gin. Quite interesting!

Taste: Sharp and strong, with herbs and medicinal qualities. Juniper still strong.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, smooth.

Overall: Interesting brew, without any hops! The herbs and berries more than make up for the lack of hops though; I'm reminded of classic druid influenced recipes familiar from Scottish breweries like Williams. Alcohol not too strong, just right really. Another successful BrewDog experiment...

 531 characters

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.62/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 330ml bottle with a BB of May 2013. Bought recently from Trembling Madness in York. This brew is the result of a competitive collaboration between the Brewdog and Flying Dog breweries: a 0-IBU IPA. Brewed without hops, herbs and spices are used to flavour it instead. This is Brewdog's effort; the label art is fantastic.

Poured into a Delirium chalice. A clear coppery-amber hue with medium carbonation. Forms a small head of white foam that disappears after a minute or two. Aroma of herbal fruitiness: banana, bay leaves, cloves and a hint of juniper. Underpinned by caramel malt and a mild whiff of alcohol.

Tastes of herbs and fruitiness with a mild bitter finish. Notes of banana, bay, cloves, caramel, faint rosemary and stewed leaves. Has a spicy quality and a restrained, dry bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, dry and tingly with decent body. Would certainly benefit from more carbonation, and could be a bit chewier. Highly astringent - dries the palate thoroughly. Aftertaste of herbs and mild fruit.

Weird, though interesting. The banana note is quite distinct and almost cloying; I'm not sure where this comes from (yeast?). The herbal flavour is well blended and quite restrained, but not as clean as the character that hops provide in other beers. Body is OK but could be better. An intriguing effort, though I don't think hops are likely to fall out of favour any time soon. Worth trying once, however I doubt I'll revisit this. Looking forward to sampling the Flying Dog version.

 1,522 characters

International Arms Race from BrewDog
Beer rating: 78 out of 100 with 64 ratings