On yer bike – @OakhamAles: Green Devil IPA

20160625_210055

You know, I reckon, there’s two very different sorts of hoppy beer in this funny little world of ours…

First off, there’s American hoppy beer: which I associate with resinous and dank and sticky buds and citrus and grapefruit peel and bitter and marmalade – all in a tumult, just like that.

Then there’s English hoppy beer – which is still assertive and has those same American themes but somehow less full-bore and with more subtleties – such as delicate floral notes and honey and summer.

If it’s pines in an English-hoppy beer then it’s sun-soaked Lebanese cyprus by a greek taverna – rather than pine needles bunging up the Hoover at Christmas.

I like both styles equally…

There’s days when only a solid American IPA style will do: everything at maximum, with the amps cranked up to 11 – a headlong break-neck trip through hop city on a Harley.

Then there’s other days when you need a bracing yomp through the hills and fields, taking in the forests and the rioutous summer meadows; earthy, sensual and provocative to the senses – which is what you seem to get from an English hoppy beer.

Needless to say, there’s US brewers making great English-style hoppy beer, and some great US-inspired hoppy beer from brewers on this side of the water…

Speaking of brewers from this side of the water, lets take a look at Oakham’s Green Devil IPA…

Green Devil IPA is a curious mix of both hoppy beer styles.  I guess I can best describe it as a bit like mountain-biking:  it’s all full-on downhill craziness: mad hops and assertive bitterness; but if you take the time to stop for a bit and take your helmet off, you’ll find yourself in a delicate and sensual surroundings.

The hops in the nose are big and bold, lightly vegetative and with a lively playfulness.   The colour is fresh-cast-bullion and the head stays soapy-foamy right to the end.  I got pines, lemons and hints of grapefruit in the taste with a lightly but dangerously drinkable body.  The bitterness kept me going back for more until I found myself empty-glassed and slightly sad at not having more on hand.

If I were you I’d get on your bike and get some today.

See detail of it here: http://www.oakhamales.com/greendevilipa.html

He’ll soon be back at this rate: @OakhamAles – Bishop’s Farewell

20150127_201246…that’s if that Bishop’s got any sense; this is too good a beer to miss…

Well it’s happy times again as I get to report back on Oakham’s Bishop’s Farewell, and what a lovely beer it is too:

A lovely light and golden colour with a tempting hazy quality to it.  I say tempting, because haze – in my book – normally means DRY HOPPING and we all like a bit of that, don’t we?  The head was a little on the collapsible side, but that’s neither here ‘nor there.

The aroma was honey and citrus pith with that lovely singed bitter orange theme that I seem to get with all good hoppy beers; also in amongst were more than enough pines and dank to keep me interested.

The taste reminded me a bit of Oakham’s JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter) as it led out with that same beautifully assertive acerbic note, but after that came a light caramel from the malt that supported a hefty dose of pines, lemons and grapefruit prickliness.

Beautifully carbonated and magnificently refreshing this is a top beer to have with pretty much anything.  It’ll cut right through heavy British cuisine, but will also make Asian/Indian cuisines pop like mad.

The other great thing is that it’s a 500ml bottle – so there’s loads of it, and because of the excellent malt body it feels much bigger than the 5% ABV.

Bloody marvellous.

You could, if you fancied, chill it down a little further and serve it in the summer as you would a sparkling white wine in some fancy flutes (as per my review of Thornbridge Kipling: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/11/thornbridge-kipling/) or you could just pour lovely great pints of it down your neck.

Get some today:

http://www.oakhamales.com/bottles.html

Great beers at the Hook Norton Beer Festival

20140719_144946Humour is most definitely alive and well in the land of the beer festival…

This was my first time at this event, and on the whole I was impressed:

Good things:
  • 100+ beers and ciders on cask
  • Fast attentive bar service
  • £1.50 a half, which is very good value
  • Good tasting notes
  • Camping available if you wanted to
  • Live music
  • Good selection of non-alcoholic options and foods to keep drivers and kids topped up
Not so good things:
  • Billed as being family friendly, but there wasn’t much for kids to do – apart from a horse and cart ride around the car park field
  • Far too many people crammed into too small-a-space, especially when groups of folks turn up with their gazebos, chairs and the like

When you organize this event next time, please try to make a bigger area for festival-goers to congregate – give some room for people to spread out a bit and make sure the stage with the music is somewhere where everyone can see it.

My kids only managed to last about an hour and half before they became over-whelmed by the sheer amount of people compressed into such a small space – especially when we all had to pile in the tent to escape the thunderstorm.

It was difficult to navigate the site without tripping over gazebo guy ropes, dog leads, folding chairs and lord knows what else.

And please: next year have a free bouncy castle…most people I saw leaving early were going because their kids were bored or kicking off about something or other (mine included).  Beer festivals are normally a great family day out and mine usually get wildly over-excited at the idea of going to one (Arthur couldn’t sleep the night before the Hooky one, as he normally gets cake, crisps and pop all afternoon, plus unlimited bouncy castle time with his mates…imagine his disappointment when there was no castle at all)

Parents with happy children will stay a lot longer and spend so much more on food and drink…

Despite the above, the festival was well organized and there was a MAGNIFICENT beer list: http://www.hookybeerfest.co.uk/2014-festival-beers with really great tasting notes that helped me choose the four beers that I sampled:

 

Dark Star – Hop Head:

Oh god, this was so good. Tons of hops, maybe Simcoe – but not at all catty. Pretty much excellent.  I love this beer to death.

 

Hyde’s – Anvil Sharp Motueka:

A beer I just had to try because I’ve been curious about this particular New Zealand hop. The beer turned out to be almost fresh cigar-like, thick malt and caramel, some graininess and a good non-citrussy hop hit.
http://www.hydesbrewery.com/craft-ales/ (I can’t actually find this beer anywhere on this site?)

 

Hopshackle – Hopnosis:

Lightly citrussy and ethereal. A tasty light maltiness and an excellent bitterness, Good pervasive and lasting after-taste

 

Oakham Ales – Scarlet Macaw:

On cask this is just like the bottle (https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/05/20/polly-its-a-cracker-oakham-ales-scarlet-macaw/) but even lovelier. All-round-excellent. Hoppy, bitey, makes you all screechy – just like a Macaw (that’s copied verbatim from my festival notes and was the last drink of the day…could you guess?)

 

Will definitely be going back to Hooky next year as long as there’s more opportunity to keep the kids amused while I sample beer…  :o)   I’m also happy to report that ALL of the money raised at the festival goes to charity.  So good on them.

Polly, It’s a Cracker: Oakham Ales – Scarlet Macaw

unnamedOakham ales, would you like to employ a beer taster?  I’d be very interested in getting an in on some of your pilot batches…if they’re anything like Scarlet Macaw or Citra (https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/03/17/pineappley-perfection-oakham-ales-citra/)

Sit back Ladies and Gentlemen and enjoy a dose of effusive, rapturous, reviewing:

Scarlet Macaw arrives in the glass a beautifully clear orangey-yellow colour.  An initial head quickly fizzles off to form smallish pure white islands of foam.

There isn’t a massive aroma, but this ain’t no IPA so that’s to be expected. Sweet grains dominate with some hoppiness which is all English pale soft summer fruit goodness (think goosegogs, whitecurrants, etc.).

The taste is a great big bold mouthful: BIG flavours. A solid maltiness leads through to a fleeting dash of sweetness, followed by a powerful underscoring bitterness – both of which go to produce a very satisfying and pervasive after taste.  The hops appear all along this taste curve: Amarillo punctuating the bitterness to reveal overtones of roasted oranginess and Summit crouching in the background with it’s really chewy resinous, dank notes.

The great thing about Scarlet Macaw is that it’s just so damn well put together that you really have too tease apart the taste to identify all of these different tastes, flavours and textures.  This is another one of those “thinker”, rather than purely “drinker” beers.

Marvellous. Other brewers should take note. This is how you make English beer in 2014.  No pretension or pandering to the US styles.

Boom.  English craft brewing in a glass.

The question is, will I ever find an Oakham beer that I don’t like?  It’ll be a tough job, but one I’m happy to take on…

http://www.oakhamales.com/scarletmacaw.html

(See I managed to not even mention the slightly gormless-looking Macaw on the label.  Shhhh, Jon.)

Pineappley perfection: Oakham Ales – Citra

20140316_192022

I’ve had this bottle of Citra sat about in stock for quite a while now, and it’s been giving me the come-on every time I’ve looked in the cupboard, the filthy tease…so I thought it only fair that I should take it out and show it a good time…

I’ll have to forgive the slightly wacky label design, I can’t say I’m a fan of it…the beer itself deserves better.  I think an excellent beer should be treated with a modicum of reverance, a la Thornbridge, Siren and co.  and I consider Citra to be very much on a par with those beers.

From the bottle Citra pours a very light straw colour, with a crisp-looking white head that doesn’t stick around for long – and I can only think that’s because of the AMAZING aroma forcibly punching it’s way through it…this is quite honestly one of the best smelling beers I’ve had in a long while:

A gorgeous Citra hop induced pineappley, grapefruity, sherbet fountain, lemon thyme and chamomile bouquet pervades.  If I was synaesthetic -which, I’m probably not- I’d have had a pretty strong yellow/light green theme going on.  Joyous and invigorating, this is an aroma that makes you want to just sniff for a good long while before drinking.

The taste is equally as joyous: lightly piney at first with a gorgeous velvety mouth-feel, then the pineappley-citrus notes of the Citra hops lead out and introduce you to a perfectly judged bitterness that carries with it beautiful dank overtones and a prickly pine needles on the finish.  Each sip is endlessly enjoyable…I’m sure the malt bill is just as good but you just don’t notice it, Citra is all about the hops.

Christ, it’s good: on par with some of the quality US pales or IPAs in terms of aroma and flavour without being wiltingly strong…and  compared to US beers, there’s so much of it in a bottle.

Quite lovely. Well done, Oakham.  I got my bottle of Citra from Waitrose – so now you’ve no excuse not to buy some.

http://www.oakhamales.com/citra.html