Dropping in to L. Mulligan Grocer one sunny Friday recently I noticed that they had a damn near perfect selection of summer's evening cask beers. On the handpumps were O'Hara's IPA and Dungarvan Helvick Gold, the latter being the perfect accompaniment to beer garden relaxation. It's very rare that I pass it up, but down the bar squatted the new gravity cask which was serving Gold by Dancing Duck, a Derbyshire brewery which regularly features at LMG's sister pub W.J. Kavanagh's. I decided I'd chance a pint.
It arrived rather darker than expected, more orange-amber than proper gold. There was a mere speckle of white on the surface in lieu of a head, but it definitely wasn't flat, providing more of an insistent prickle of fizz than is normal for cask, so no complaints here. The aroma is that of an old fashioned sweetshop, with alluring but indistinct sticky candy delights. On tasting, this becomes a massive hit of pineapple: fresh, wet, sweet and juicy. Other flavours don't get a look-in until the finish when it turns nicely tart, with a bit of rhubarb acidity lending it a pleasant mouth-watering send-off.
Oddly, nobody I was with thought it was any good, and even proprietrix Seaneen wasn't sure if it was fit to be served. I wouldn't say I'm the fussiest drinker in the world, but I fail to see how anything could have been wrong with this just the way it was. Gustibus non disputandum and all that. Me, I was looking out for it again on the next sunny day to roll round.
When it did, I found myself in W.J. Kavanagh's, inspecting the handpumps. No Gold, but there was Dancing Duck Ay Up instead, and it was no hardship. 3.9% ABV, a very pure pale golden colour and with the mild waxy bitterness softened by ripe jaffa orange that are the hallmark flavours of English hops doing what they do best. Summer sessionability defined.
Seems like it's weather for ducks whenever the sun shines.