04 November 2013

Naughty little boys

I had great ambitions to reach "zero notebook" this autumn -- to turn all of the tasting note scribblings which accumulated earlier in the year into blog posts. Alas, I'm not there yet, but here are four more off the list, all kindly provided by Richard one warm evening last July.

Most are from Tiny Rebel in South Wales, a recent addition to the growing number of youf-oriented British breweries. Their Urban IPA is a very modest 5.5% ABV and pours a rich shade of dark orange-amber. The aroma is beautifully pithy, showing off lots of fresh jaffa and this comes through as more of an oily resinousness on tasting, with the added bonus of some light sandalwood spicing. It signs off with a punchy bitter astringency and leaves an afterglow that belies the mid-range ABV. A very solid flagship, this.

The label of Hadouken brought a particular smile to my face, the arrow combination depicted being a significant one for many men my age, I'm sure. In a lot of ways this is an intensified version of the Urban IPA: a similar colour and doing the same pithy orange things, but with 7.4% ABV to play with it's all much more concentrated. The beer is full bodied to the point of greasiness and the sweet malt contributes to a hop-studded toffee effect of the sort commonly found in American beers of this style. The hops have been ramped up to the point of being lip-numbing. Powerful but balanced say my notes from four months ago. I believe them.

Taking a whole different approach to labelling we have NP10. It's badged as a "Belgian [style] Golden Strong Ale" but tastes much more like a tripel. It has the honey and spice complexity, rather than just being booze, yeast and fizz. Deliciously smooth and not too hot, despite that double-figure ABV.

From south Wales to west London and a limited edition beer that has probably long since passed beyond availability: Old Burton Extra from the Fuller's Past Masters series. This is 7.3% ABV and brewed to a recipe from 1931. It pours a dark red colour and gives off a powerful, but enticing, aroma of cough mixture. The malt leads the flavour profile, beginning with buttery toffee followed by some plum jam fruitiness. It wouldn't be a Burton without some generous hopping and that comes into play at the end: firmly bitter in an impeccably mannered way, without any sharpness or acridity. Very much a beer to take time over, if you're thinking of pulling one out of your stash for these darker evenings.

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