Saturday, April 4, 2009
Five for five
My latest CAMRA beer club delivery arrived yesterday and in a fit of gluttony fuelled by high spirits due to a spell off work I got stuck into the 5 ales on offer. First up was Ridgeway's ROB, an organic ale which assures you on the bottle that organic malt is a bugger to work with but organic hops are the business. The beer itself has a pronounced malt character like I have never tasted before, it is biscuity, almost wheat like and lingers forever. The hops are indeed good, plenty of orange and spice but over all it's an unusual ale and I'd struggle with any more of it.
Next up was Hopdaemon Brewery's Skrimshander, named after a character in Moby Dick. It pushes itself as an IPA and doesn't disappoint on the hop and bitterness front. Plenty of hops on the nose and in the finish, an attractive copper colour and brilliant clarity along with low carbonation make for a top English ale.
Meantime's Wheat is far from English but it is by far the best non German wheat I have stumbled across. It's all about the yeast selection with these beers but the grist composition is important too. Meantime have nailed both with this beer producing a true weisse in the Bavarian tradition.
Liberation from Suthwyk ales is another honest English ale sporting a mouth watering golden hue accompanied by a slight haze despite a careful pour. It has the cold tea tannin character that I don't get to taste enough and has even less carbonation than Hopdaemon's Skrimshander resulting in near perfect cask character. The hops are earthy, and once again I would say this is an example of a solid English ale save for the use of American Liberty hops, but Liberty is not an American hop in the mould of Cascade of Centennial - it has a earthy character more typical of English hops so the over all impression is of a well crafted English ale.
Last of all is Otley 08, a bitter sweet barley wine from a relatively new brewery in Wales. The 8% ethanol swimming around the glass is evident in a comforting warmth, but there is plenty of bitter orange from the hops to balance things out. The citric hops match the golden colour well, and it is a thin beer for its weight without the cloying that can make some heavy hitting beer hard to manage.
A satisfying selection this quarter made all the more so by the relatively little cost thanks to a weak Sterling. Sure, the Euro is crippling Ireland's exporters, but it's not all bad....