Full marks to Revelation Cat for the label design on these beers, capturing perfectly the style of Nintendo's 8-bit game packaging, to the point of possibly prompting a letter from the lawyers. The brewing company is based in Rome but these were all produced in Kent at the Ramsgate Brewery: information marked clearly on the back label, other gypsy brewers please note.
They came my way via Reuben, coming his way via Steve, so thanks again to them both.
First up, Take My AdWeisse (clunky names not your thing? maybe skip this post). It's a 4.5% ABV weissbier, pouring a very opaque yellow. The aroma is lovely and unusual for the style: fresh and juicy mandarins. It loses its way a bit after that. Only a mild clove spice flavour suggests its true style and while the bitter hop finish is pleasant it's not enough to save the whole from falling a bit flat.
A sessionable pale ale next, the 4.5% ABV Dry Hop Thriller. There's a lovely punchy pith aroma here and the flavour segues nicely from soft peach into sterner grapefruit. The finish is a little on the astringent side, but it kinda works in its favour, adding a moreish puckering dryness.
Turning up the ABV dial to 6%, there's Hopaddendum: similar in colour -- a cloudy pale orange -- it lulls you in with a sweet heady stonefruit aroma but then cruelly smacks you in the face with an unpleasantly sharp flavour. It's not even properly hoppily bitter, just acrid and harsh.
Stronger again is California Moonset, a more typically American style IPA with 7% ABV, showing dark amber in the glass because there's a heavy layer of crystal malt in here. It smells beautiful, with toffee in the ascendant and citrus behind. The flavour balances the best of both, starting sweet with caramel and nectarine building to an almost catty pungency. That gentle upward slope from sweet and fruity to sharp and bitter seems to be something of a pattern with these beers.
That said, F.R.E.S.H. (trust me, you don't want to know what it stands for) does it more or less in reverse. It's the same strength as the foregoing but is made with old world hops, kicking off with a quite harsh grassy herbal vibe but finishing on a mellower orange blossom note. Not very complex beyond that, however.
Perhaps predictably the best is the last one. Hop Animal proclaims itself to be a "double double IPA". 13% ABV and getting full value out of its wine-like strength, it's extremely dense, with bags of thick syrupy toffee. This has been expertly balanced against a prodigious quantity of hop oils, making it two different, and very tasty, kinds of sticky at once. Overall a beautifully warming sundowner: just what you want from this sort of beer.
Part of me is inclined to bitch that more work went into the packaging than the brewing with most of these, but if they were my regular local selection I think I'd be quite happy.
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