Firstly, hopinators. Basically a backwards filter, these are last-minute flavour infusers you can stick in the circuit between the keg and the tap — making you a great big nerd, and giving you a chance to muck about a bit. Homebrewers make them out of water filters (plugged in the wrong way round), and the Dogfish Head brewery famously made one they called Randall the Enamel Animal, leading to the semi-popular generic name ‘Randall’ for such gizmos. Our Overboss likes to call ours the Modus Hoperandus, which is pretty cute and appeals to my Law Nerd side, but me and my flatmates preferred simpler names like Dennis (as in ‘Hopper’) or David (as in, er, ‘Hasselhopp’).
Secondly, what you can do with them. The obvious use for these gadgets is increasing the hoppiness of a hoppy thing. But that’s also the least-creative use of them, if you ask me. It’s occasionally fun, sure — and the Wig & Pen IPA (brewed by the man who built and installed the Modus itself, no less) was perfectly suited to such — but the more-random stuff is just more My Thing. So you can crank a wheat beer full of strawberries, a golden ale full of kiwifruit, a traditional IPA full of mandarins, or, as here, a stout full of coffee beans. The latter has an absurdly-beneficial aesthetic effect on ours, gloriously hewn from steel and glass as it is. (Weirdly, despite their usual — and shared-by-me — fondness for Steampunk-ish things at Dogfish Head, you’d have to say that ours is much more in that mode; it just should’ve been brass…)
Thirdly, this particular thing. If there was a Heaven, this would be one of those Matches Made There. Wigram is a charming little battler of a brewery, with moments of genius and moments of naff — like most operations, I suppose. Their Imperial Stout is definitely one of the former, and is in the British Imperial mold rather than the Russian, so has a massive dryness absurdly-well accommodates the flavours from the coffee. It’s big, dry and fabulous. It is Stephen Fry.
Verbatim: Wigram Imperial Stout & Mojo Beans 10/9/10, guest on the Hopinator, loaded with coffee 8%. Transforms the Modus from a murky fishtank of hop flowers into a pillar of obsidian; like a tube of captive midnight. The stout is serious, dry and delicious — ‘British Imperial’, they say, lacking the sweetness of a Russian ~. But whereas I found the Townshend #9 a bit limp, this is big and dry and fabulous. Like Clive James, or Stephen Fry. Doesn’t feel boozy at all. The dryness and the coffee are just made for each other.