I may have mentioned in my last post that I was confident that you, dear reader, were probably a little tired of just reading about my Year in Beer challenge. And to that end, watch this space for an upcoming post that is in no way just about beer.
That is not this post however, which is, I’m happy/afraid* to say, just about beer; specifically, May’s wander through another five beers from the list of the 50 top beers.
(* delete as applicable)
Week 32 – Thornbridge Wild Swan
Wild Swan is another Thornbridge beer from the list. Overall, they have four beers in the top 50, ranging from an Imperial Stout through a wheat beer to a vintage ale. This one is a white gold pale ale that pours a very pale colour with a lot of carbonation. The aroma of the beer is very hoppy and the taste is very bitter. I also picked up on a hint of lemon in there somewhere, giving it a citrus bitterness.
The sun was shining when I drank this beer and it seemed the perfect opportunity to combine it with a delicious halloumi salad. From a River Cottage recipe, it is a simple salad of tomato, cucumber, onion and mint, topped with a few slices of fried halloumi and a drizzle of dressing. It’s a firm favourite chez Running Buffet.
And who doesn’t love a nice sunny day?
Week 33 – Brewdog Hardcore IPA
Oh my starry eyed surprise! This is a beer to knock you over backwards and then hug you and tell you it’s all going to be alright. It’s the colour of burnt amber and it smells delicious; it has that US pale ale-style aroma, full of fruit, which leads you to expect a bitter beer. But no! Toffee hints within the sweet malts balance the bitterness that rushes through at the end to take over. It tastes strong, but is tastes great.
(a) I am a relative novice in the art of assessing beer, so there is a fair chance that some, none or all of the above could be a little wide of the mark; and
(b) that this is the sort of beer that will have been reviewed by many others, better equipped than I to review beers,
I carried out a quick trawl through the internet to see what others had to say.
Over at Alcohol and Aphorisms, the Hardcore IPA tasting notes mention “a solid malt body, wonderful nose and hoppy end. Extremely well crafted with sweet fruitiness offsetting the amazing bitterness.” Which isn’t a million miles away from what I said, I’m pleased to report.
Total Ales describes Hardcore IPA as “an absolute stunner that I urge hop freaks like myself to go out and try if you haven’t already done so.”
And a sample of recent reviews on ratebeer.com seem to concur: “Strong malt presence in taste, with the bitterness and fruitiness of the hops. Strong on alcohol and you can taste that” (greenclansman). “Taste is fruity, malty and hoppy, mildly sweet initially with heavily bitter but pleasant long finish” (agent_persik). “Simply amazing, masterpiece of brewery” (Makavelius).
All round, people seem to like this beer. As do I. It’s really good.
Week 34 – Magic Rock Human Cannonball
This is the second beer from Magic Rock to feature in the top 50 list: their High Wire featured in last month’s entry. Human Cannonball is a ramped up version of their Cannonball IPA and clocks in at 9.2% ABV (the same as Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA).
Again this has an amazing aroma. Really fruity. There was definitely some mango lurking in there somewhere. I would go as far as to say that this is even fruitier than the Hardcore IPA. It is not as sweet as that beer though, but it does still have a good malt balance to the bitterness that again comes through to finish off the beer.
It is a smooth beer that is very easy to drink, despite the high ABV. Whilst it doesn’t have the same “wow” factor as the Hardcore IPA, it is still a really good beer.
Week 35 – Leeds Brewery Hellfire
Leeds Brewery have been up and running since 2007 and, if you know where to look, their beers can now be tracked down across the UK. My bottle of Hellfire came courtesy of Bierhuis, who sell a great range of Yorkshire beers, as well those from further afield. Hellfire is a clear, yellow beer with some carbonation when it is poured, but not a lot. It has a malty aroma but is quite a bitter beer.
I had this beer with a couple of burgers and it definitely worked better as an accompaniment to the burgers than it did on its own. The malts in the beer picked up on the flavours in the meat and it cut through the fattiness nicely.
I possibly wouldn’t drink this again on its own, but it is a good beer to have with food.
Week 36 – Brakspear Triple
The final beer of May is another strong ale. This is a deep copper colour that has no real carbonation when it is released from the bottle. It has a slightly fruity aroma and malty flavours with a rich body. At the end, a bitter fruitiness lingers. Whilst it tastes strong, it also tastes very pleasant; the strength is not overpowering. I preferred this beer to the similar Hellfire.
A busy month, with five beers (a tenth of the list) crossed off. And one of them, the Hardcore IPA, being an absolutely cracking beer. I’ve already ordered another couple of bottles of that from the internet. It probably won’t last long when it arrives!