Anyone else remember Ray Cokes? Early-evening show on MTV Europe in the mid-1990s? No, I wouldn't admit to that in a public forum either. Perhaps Ray hasn't done as well for himself as his colleague from that time Davina McCall, but he did show up a couple of years ago on Belgian telly presenting a show about beer called Tournée Générale. The programme has since spawned a second series, and it offers us a slightly askew take on this month's Session topic -- beer art and breweriana. Curtis has asked us to pick our favourite example of cap or label art, but I'm not one for covering old ground on this blog. Instead of an artistic endeavour promoting beer, I give you a beer which promotes an artistic endeavour: season 2 tie-in beer Tournée Générale Tripel Hop.
It's brewed by Palm but the design (love that minimalism) more prominently bears the logos of the host TV channel and Ray's production company.
Though it makes no style claims, it's 7.5% ABV and fits in with the new-ish wave of Belgian IPAs. Fitting for the accompaniment to a documentary there's a long explanation of the hopping process on the bottle: Magnum for bittering, late Amarillo and dry-hopped with Cascade. The end result is a bright shade of amber, hazy with vast amounts of fizz.
Like so many of this style, the hop fruitiness gets buried under the powerful Belgian yeast, but before we even get to that there's a strongly sweet barley sugar base, with only the busy carbonation keeping it from getting too sticky. The yeast esters follow, a mix of bananas and pear drops, and only after this do the hops get a look in. Soft and succulent fruit flavours are what's going on: honeydew and nectarine for the most part.
It's an enjoyable and well-constructed beer, all in. I'm even more impressed that a show about beer had the good sense to put an accompanying brew together, one which showcases excellently what malt, hops and yeast do. Interactive TV at its best; breweriana you can drink.
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