And so to part two of the June/July double bill. Not read June’s entry yet? Click here to visit that month’s entry.
Week 41 – Adnams Explorer
Adnams make the tasty Broadside beer (Mrs RB and I think it’s tasty at any rate) and Explorer is another from their range. A clear pint with a good head, this has a fruity aroma but not one that wallops you round the head with all those tropical fruits. The Indy list describes it as “a blonde ale using US hops in a restrained fashion” and that is an apt description: restrained.
(Of course it should be an apt description, as they are the experts. It’s just pleasing when I understand what they are talking about.)
The bitterness is nice, but is not as full-on as the US pale ales I have tried and it doesn’t linger too long. Overall, this is a nice, enjoyable beer. I also rather like the label.
Week 42 – Fyne Ales Jarl
I’m not sure it’s ever a good thing, when considering a pint of beer, to be in a position where you feel that you have to jot down the phrase “touch of green?” But that is, indeed, what I noted down for Jarl. It has a slightly hazy, gold colour and, yes, perhaps just an edge of green. A shimmer. A slight patina of green. Maybe. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light.
Whatever the colour, it didn’t affect the enjoyment of the beer. A fruity, fresh aroma; bolder than the Adnams. A bitter flavour that, again, doesn’t stay around longer than it needs to. This is described as a “session ale” and it is very much of that easy-to-drink style that would make you want to go back for another round. We only had the one bottle though, much to Mrs RB’s chagrin, as she rather liked this one.
Week 43 – Kelham Island Pale Rider
Where the first two beers in July were similar, the Pale Rider is a different animal. A sweeter, more malty aroma, I noted down that I was picking up both cucumber and toffee in the smell. Whilst this seems, at first, to be a little unlikely, it is worth pointing out that the Indy list describes “aromas of peach, raspberry and cucumber” so I may have been influenced by that. The line between what I can actually smell and what I think I can smell (having just read something that tells me what I should be smelling) is a fine one. In my defence, a quick search of other people’s reviews of this beer throw up a wide range of different smells; you could almost believe that we were all just making it up as we go along.
Amber in colour and with a well balanced flavour, this offered me more malt than I had experienced with the two beers above. Whilst Mrs RB really does love those hoppy, bitter beers, I think I am leaning slightly more towards something a little more balanced.
Week 44 – Monty’s Sunshine
This is another beer that saw us going out of our way to find it. Having secured a bottle of it and squirreled it away at home, now was the time to pull it out and to tuck in.
This beer certainly goes with the hot weather that we enjoyed all through July. A large head; a fruity, grassy smell; a clear, golden colour. This doesn’t have as much of a grapefruit hit as I have encountered with some other beers, but this is definitely a refreshing summer beer.
Week 45 – Cairngorm Black Gold
Rounding out this extended edition of A Year in Beer is Black Gold from Cairngorm Brewery. As I have mentioned in previous posts, getting my hands on every single beer from the top 50 list has proven to be the most challenging aspect of the Year in Beer Challenge. Knowing that I was missing Black Gold, and in the hope that they would be able to point me in the right direction, I got in touch with the brewery themselves and explained my plight. Not only were they happy to help, but a bottle of Black Gold was soon merrily making the journey all the way from Scotland to the South West. It also brought a couple of friends along for the ride.
Whilst I hope that this hasn’t affected my objectivity, their kind and generous help needs to be recorded as, otherwise, I’m not sure how easily I would have been able to lay my hands on a bottle before the year was up.
I had been persuaded a long time ago that the perception of stouts as heavy beers was wildly inaccurate. They may look dark and brooding, but they can be light and refreshing and I was in no way concerned about opening a bottle of stout in the middle of summer.
True enough, this beer is not at all heavy but still packs a range of roasted aromas and a full, roasted flavour. There is something about those rich, roast flavours that I really like about stouts. In appearance this is a deep, dark pint with a reasonably thin tan head. What surprised me about this beer was its tangy side: it comes with a lively buzz that gave it a bit of a zip as you drank it. That was something I hadn’t experienced with the other stouts that have featured in the list and it gave it something pleasingly different.
I enjoyed this beer a lot, both for the way it meets my expectations of a stout and also for the ways that it didn’t. And I’m not just saying that because the people at the brewery are so nice, I promise.
So where does that leave us? 45 down and 5 to go. There are only a few Year in Beer entries to go; there are not many beers left on the list. The end is nigh, last orders are being called. Join me again in about a month’s time for a review of the final few.