It was a couple of few weeks back that Eve, the boys and I decided to have a quick trip out to Kingham foodies festival – as it seemed like a reasonable thing to do on a coolish, dampish weekend morning. The market itself was thinnish…as in there weren’t a huge amount of people visiting…and there certainly wasn’t a huge amount of people exhibiting/stall-holding, either.
In amongst the endless chintzy teapottery and fiddly-crafty doo-dahs there was – much as I hoped there’d be – a beer company.
Run by Maria and Pete from Festival spirits, their small stall was an oasis in the midst of the seen-it-before, locally-produced guinea-pig sausages and hand-woven yoghurt. Although Maria and Pete only had three local brewers represented (Vale, XT and Malt the Brewery) they had a good range from each, so I was happy to stop by, browse and chat for a short while before picking up a suitably hoppy offering from each of the three.
Maria said that they regularly run beer festivals, tastings and the such-like…and believe me, these three breweries are lucky to be represented by Festival Spirits. Go visit their website and see the good work that these folks do in the community:
The first of my purchases from Maria and Pete was XT brewery’s 3 IPA…as you know, I do like a hop. Oh yes I do…
The packaging makes the bottle seem a little austere and understated…but it’s their style, it works for them and who am I to quibble over such things. Like all good things, it’s what’s inside that counts.
XT3 Poured out a perfect clear amber colour…which is always a little worrying as I like to see a little bit of haze i.e. evidence of MASSIVE dry-hopping, but the public gets what the public wants – and that’s clear beer. The head was fulsome, lasting, and good-looking.
In the aroma were sweetly malty notes that were well-rounded and overlaid with a ton of vegetal/floral hops. The aroma reminded me very much of my past efforts to brew an all-grain Goose Island IPA tribute…I rammed that to the gunwhales with Styrian Goldings and it smelt just like this. It’s either Styrians in here or pellet hops (…he said; like he’s some sort of expert or something)
The mouth-feel was generous and nicely joined up with the well-judged and more than-adequate bitterness. The hops bounced about nicely with the sweet malt and again I got the impression of substantial late hop additions – which is something I can only applaud.
So let’s take an objective look: it’s most definitely an IPA…not at all in the American style, but it’s doing a blimmin’ good impression of one. It’s way bigger and bolder than any of the standard English IPAs and at 4.2% this is a session beer that’s firmly in the “I can’t believe isn’t a bigger beer” category – as it’s riotously good and has enough hop character and bitterness to make you think you’re drinking something a whole lot “bigger”
And there was me thinking it was only Adnams who can pull the old “smaller beer feeling bigger” trick: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/08/28/adnams-explorer/
I love the XT site as the core range of beers is broad and well-considered. The speciality range look especially tempting too. The front page of the XT site (http://www.xtbrewing.com) is unexpected in these equality-driven times…I’m not sure I’d have the front to have half-naked (but tastefully dressed) young ladies lounging about on the opening page of my website (but in reality I’d like to…) Is it a photo-shopped stock photo? Does she work there? Does she even like beer? Who knows, who cares.
I shall be keeping a very close eye on what XT are up to in future…as well as seeing what the Festival Spirit folks get up to…