I’d sum up Jennings Golden Host up in two simple words: floral and biscuity. Wordsworth might roll in his grave at that crude and lazy generalisation, so let’s try something a bit more prosaic…
The scene that Golden Host conjures is a spring day, the first of the year where the cool air breaks the gentle heat of the sun; arms, necks and foreheads are exposed for the first time since the leaves started to reappear on trees. Hot cookies sit on a window sill, a view perhaps overlooking Bassenthwaite or Loweswater, an iridescent shimmer on the water that heralds a yawning season, waiting to become vivacious and dominant.
There’s daffodils leading up the path to the maltings; for the workers there’s toasted teacakes and honey for breakfast; roughly cut brown bread and salad (dressed in herbs, perhaps even anise) for dinner; and following a rural supper of beer and bread those cookies get to fulfil their destiny.
Don’t expect pomp and grandeur, or the glory of a god in the sky to shine down on you as you take your first sip – even if you are of a Romantic persuasion and this beer has you dreaming of Wordsworth and his zeal for floating clouds and crowds, nay hosts!, of daffodils, as the sun sets over the lonely vales and hills this is a simple beer of pale malt, floral hops, Fair Trade sugar and a subtle, fresh disposition.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: cumbria, daffodils, Floral, golden, jennings, wordsworth
I feel harsh saying this looks like a pale piss yellow coloured beer, but hey, I’m saying what I’m seeing. M&S Essex Ale looks watery when poured into a glass and not quite the post-work refreshment I had in mind.
So raising the not-so-enticing liquid to my face I’m caught off guard by a gust of floral loveliness and the punchy tropical fruit aroma. Perhaps there’s grapefruit, perhaps just a hint of grass. Soft fleshy fruits dominate the first sip before a gust of bitterness overwhelms – it’s sweet but not overly, a little piece of an exotic climate that Essex can only dream of. This beer is vibrant and invigorating and just what the doctor ordered. This is Kernel Pale Ale territory yet I picked it up from the supermarket (albeit a posh supermarket, but supermarket nonetheless).
This is very good news indeed.
Unfortunately this bottle doesn’t maintain these qualities in the same way that something like Kernel Centennial does (a beer I’d cut a few fingers off to have a lifetime supply of) but even so, Essex Summer Ale knocks the socks off it’s peers.
If it has one flaw it’s that it suffers slightly from smells-better-than-it-tastes syndrome, that most frustrating of beer qualities, the equivalent of getting Kelly Brook naked in your bed whilst you are forced to spend the night wrapped tightly in industrial cling film right next to her.
Crouch Vale have done M&S proud with Essex Summer Ale and no doubt it’ll fly off the shelves. In fact, I’m going back tomorrow and clearing the shelves, summer’s nearly out and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to try this again (it may well be the last summer beer of 2010).
Beer: Essex Pale AleTags: essex, grapefruit, grass, kernel, m&s, summer
Brewery: M&S/Crouch Vale
Style: Pale Ale
The guy behind the counter looks as decrepit as the shop, and the shop doesn’t even look open, it’s grape-bordered window dressing might be confused for a long boarded up newsagents. It leans against Ladbrokes on the Dereham Road, just a short walk (and not very scenic walk) from the pot-holed streets of Norwich city centre.
Ivanhoe jumps off the shelf, of all the local beers it looks the most promising (though in fairness surprisingly few of the local beer label designs would make Pump Clip Parade). Adorned with knights jousting, something feels right about buying this beer in Norwich, a city that was once second only to London and is now an oft-overlooked destination for cultural delights.
And the beer fits the bill that the label tees up – malty, almost sour and distinctively English in all elements (inherited from the English Maris Otter and chocolate malt, the Golding and Admiral Hops).
Pale ales nowadays don’t often come without the promise of tropical fruit or a hop roll call scaling double figures. Ivanhoe redresses the hop/malt balance and if anything hints at English harvest fruit.
Ivanhoe shows that nothing more than a hint of the historical is needed to make a beer I’d happily revisit regularly.
More regularly than I’m likely to joust.
And unfortunately more regularly than I get to ramble amongst the cobbles and wood beams of Norwich.
Tags: Ivanhoe, Ridgeway
Beer: Ivanhoe English Pale Ale
Brewery: Ridgeway Brewing
Style: Pale Ale
Some beers have a pedestal. Sometimes it’s deserved because they are truly great beers, technically and taste-wise. Some are headliners, built by a cheeky PR campaign or an elaborate story. And some are deserved winners of awards and a place within beery folklore.
Summer Lightning by Hopback falls in the latter category. Back when I was enjoying my third year on this planet and coming to terms with the fact I would soon have a baby brother stealing all of the attention in the Fletcher household, John Gilbert of the newly formed Hopback Brewery was quietly supplying his local beer festival with a special beer for their annual event. He answered their brief not with an amber bitter or a dark mild, but with a golden well-hopped beer. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Golden Ale, hopback, pale ale, summer lightning
Terrible beer, great name.
Of course not, it’s the other way round. Disclaimer starts here: I love this beer.
I first sampled The Bitch at the Flying Dog UK tasting in Leeds. This 20th anniversary beer jumped out of its take-home tetra pak like a bat out of hell. Its nose blasted my clean out of my seat and before the night was out it was on its way to being a beer phenomenon.
Raging Bitch’s Belgian influence is the first thing that strikes me: it’s fruity esters and yeasty sweetness that only Belgian beers can pull off. Until now.
Massive grapefruit pith and outrageous sour fruit intertwine with a sweet malt finish and a bitter attack from an armada of late hops. The nose is huge thanks to a dry hopping assault by Amarillo hops. You pluck out the names of most of Sainsbury’s exotic fruit aisle if you close your eyes; for me the grapefruit ebbs and flows against tangerine and apricot. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: belgian, flying dog, grapefruit, IPA, raging bitch, tangerine
One of my favourite meals at the moment is grilled chicken, roasted vegetables and cous cous (interchangeable with rice, fried potatoes or other carbs to please your taste buds). Yes, the roasted veg is usually pre-chopped from ASDA – we’d never use a full courgette if we bought one – and the cous cous is Ainsley Harriot’s finest, but it’s a simple and hassle-free evening meal that’s healthy whilst ensuring we eat at a reasonable time.
It’s a meal that doesn’t want a big fancy beer. It needs something refreshing and palette cleansing, a light golden ale with qualities that mean the meal slips down easily and the night is mine to relax afterwards.
Step up Highland Brewing Company and Scapa Special. It’s a ‘world class pale ale’ and it fits the bill presented by its description: ‘golden and sparkling’, ‘light hop notes’ and a ‘balanced malt/hop middle’. Read the rest of this entry »
After a hectic day out on Saturday in the bustling streets of York complete with Christmas Market, I needed to relax with good food and beer when I got home. I’d been eyeing up three Harvey’s beers in my cupboard for a week or so and had been planning to drink them all together. Saturday night seemed perfect, with the promise of a hot curry and Christmassy afters.
Harvey’s Blue label
The first of three Harvey’s beers, I was hoping this would nicely wash down a Thai green chicken curry. It’s a coppery pale ale and poured with next to no head. I was expecting something lively from this diminutive bottle, but it was generally flat and a bit watery. Having heard lots about Harvey’s beers my first impressions were a little underwhelming.
It had a really nice, subtle aroma of lemons and limes, and there was a limey tang in the taste. It was super drinkable being soft on the palate with a smooth mouth feel. It wasn’t very bitter (the bottle says a ‘delicate bitterness’ which is an understatement) as you might expect from a beer weighing in at just 3.6% ABV. There was a sweet maltiness in the finish. I believe this beer is dry hopped which may explain some of its character
This did actually live up the bill, kind of accidentally, as it did wash down the green curry well in taste and texture, but I’m not sure this could become a favourite, and I’m not sure I’ve had the best bottle of it. One to give another go… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Ale, Barley wine, blue label, Elizabethan, harveys, india pale ale, IPA, pale, sussex
A frothy head though less aromatic than the Halcyon I tried earlier on today, (yes, it’s taken me a while to upload this review!) but boy does the first sip make up for that!
Hop Devil is bursting with flavour, whether or not that’s to your taste I can’t say. It’s not exactly balanced (overwhelmingly in favour of the hop heads) and is very complex – especially if you can wait for the lingering spices in the aftertaste.
The hops are deep, man. They are more moorland heather than summer fields (perhaps prairie grass even?!). The malt really shines through and that’s something I personally like. Combine this with deep, pungent spices and you have a lot going on, but you might not notice for the first half the bottle whilst you acclimatise to the intense, unapologetic hop character. The other elements will (well they did for me) seep out from this as you drink it, but for the at least my first few minutes this was a determinedly one track beer.
I recommend taking a short break mid way through this bottle as I did, particularly if you shoot out of the traps like a greyhound (as I also did). Alternatively take it slowly and allow the aftertaste to mature and blossom in your mouth, throwing new flavours with a ferocious nonchalance.
The spicyness and underlying maltiness simply will not leave your mouth alone. They say the fires of hell will burn for all eternity – well Hop Devil certainly practices this dogma!
Drink slowly to appreciate – but no matter how quickly you sup Hop Devil, I’m sure you’ll come away exclaiming that this really is a devil of a beer.
A good or a bad thing? … You decideTags: complex, devil, hops, victory
A beautiful aroma wells up from this beer. It is resiny, citrusy and sweet, with a strong hoppy start and a deep malty flavour that takes over.
This beer – brewed by Odell Brewing Company is one of the most balanced pale ales – even just ales – that I’ve had for a long time.
And it comes with a little story behind the name too, a title which more than hints at it’s wonderful character (you’ll also notice the hint in the Latin name for the hop plant, Humulus lupulus).
Lupulin glands are the bits of hop leaves that contain the oils that impact hop flavour or hop aroma, and those glands are certainly put to masterful use in this beer.
And it tastes absolutely fantastic!
Despite being hoppy this isn’t overpowering, and it has a character that most beers can only pine for, with much more flavour than the summer ales that have been around in abundance over last few months. It tastes a little earthy, very fresh and sweet at times.
Already straight into my list of top beers (a list as changeable as a British summertime), a beer with instant class and a lingering impact.Tags: odell, pale ale, st lupulin
This is an IPA that I’d been eyeing up in my cupboard for a few weeks before I sat down with, and boy, did it not disappoint!
Halcyon IPA by Thornbridge has a hugely hoppy aroma – a grassy rather than floral scent that tingles your tongue on the first sip. It’s initial taste is full of spices and contrasting flavours, and that’s only the beginning! Texture and colour wise it looks uniformly opaque (although I poured it pretty quickly), but even this doesn’t reflect it’s deep and multifarious taste.
This is a glorious IPA, remaining refreshing whilst being charismatically strong. It’s strength lingers throughout, becoming more complex with each gulp.
Let’s use Goose Island IPA as a benchmark of floral, tasty, downright excellent IPAs. Put simply, Halcyon is stronger, deeper and brings more to the table. Let’s not downgrade Goose Island, it’s in my Top Ten Beers Of All Time, but I can have a few Goose Island on a night out (my last night out in Leeds passing through Reform Bar proves that) but I might struggle to drink more than one Halcyon in a bar.
For a hoppy night in however, I don’t think you could do any better than this, another hop affair from Thornbridge. I actually took a break from drinking Halcyon to sample a Sam Smith’s Strawberry beer that Sarah was drinking (fruity beers so far are all she can stomach!) and coming back to Halcyon after it was an absolute joy. The explosion of taste in my mouth seemed twice as powerful and twice as enjoyable as before.
To sum it up, Halcyon is bloomin’ brilliant, and, like Radiohead this weekend at Leeds, I’m glad it’s something I had to wait a few years for despite the glowing and unrelenting reviews that tempted me so often.
I can honestly say this is a beer that isn’t caught up in hyperbole nor ballyhoo (yes I used a thesaurus for that one!)…it really is a very, very, very good beer.Tags: halcyon, india pale ale, IPA, thornbridge