International Arms Race

International Arms RaceInternational Arms Race
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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
Reviews by shand:
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.

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More User Reviews:
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

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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.

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Photo of edglodek
2.75/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of Kirk
1.25/5  rDev -61.9%

Photo of chakadrum
3.75/5  rDev +14.3%

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.

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Photo of Soto
2.75/5  rDev -16.2%

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.

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Photo of ROGUE16
3.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of Slatetank
4.25/5  rDev +29.6%

Photo of BeerForMuscle
4/5  rDev +22%

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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.25/5  rDev -0.9%

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.

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Photo of vermilcj
3.5/5  rDev +6.7%

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.

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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.

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Photo of Satyr179
3.75/5  rDev +14.3%

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.

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Photo of twenty5
3.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of Imaster
3.75/5  rDev +14.3%

Photo of LehighAce06
2.5/5  rDev -23.8%

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