Hurricane Jack and Maverick: they sound like beers better suited to a tumbleweed-strewn frontier town, drunk by hard-bitten ranchers. As-is they're from western Scotland, and the Fyne Ales brewery.
Starting with the blonde Hurricane Jack, much like its stablemate Jarl, I got a bang of hops the second the cap came off. Pouring revealed a deceptively watery looking beer, very slightly hazy and appearing for all the world like any number of crappy lagers. It doesn't smell like any of them, however, being aleishly sweet and bubblegummy, giving overtones of orangeade and a little gunpowder spice as well. It's heavier than Jarl, having a very full body for a mere 4.4% ABV with only a gentle hum of carbonation. And despite the fun and fruity aroma, the taste is very bitter to begin with, almost sour, in fact. The flavour comes behind it and is all orange pith and wax, the sharpness just held in check by that big soft texture. I found it a bit of a workout to drink. Even by the end of the glass my palate hadn't quite adjusted to all that bitterness. It's just a little too jaw-piercing for me, overall.
I waited a few minutes before opening Maverick, dark red-brown and malt-driven with a firm off-white head. Again (I think, unless it's residual from the earlier beer) the bitterness is at the front of this, though much milder. There's little by way of hop flavour and instead just a flash of bourbon biscuit and caramel before the dry bitterness reasserts itself. I can't say it does much for me: I'd like more fruit, more biscuit, and as I write that I realise what I want it to be is Clotworthy Dobbin. Dammit, Whitewater, you've ruined me for dark red sweet beers with any kind of mild hop complexity. Maverick is still pretty drinkable, however, so I didn't have to stew over it for very long.
That, I think, is the end of the Fyne Ales range currently available to me right now. Nobody will be surprised to hear that Jarl's the star.
Ola Dubh - *Origin: UK | Date: 2009 | ABV: 8% | On The Beer Nut: February 2010* With the blog turning a year old tomorrow it's time to get started on a new season of ...
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