I swiped these three from Hardknotts Dave and Ann when they were in Dublin last summer and I've been feeling guilty about them ever since. Not because of the theft, but because I haven't taken the time to drink them and they weren't getting any fresher in my fridge. So, by way of absolution...
Continuum is a 4% ABV session pale ale so immediately invites comparison with our native hoppy 4%er Green Bullet. This is a darker, heavier offering, and while Green Bullet is all pointy, spiky refreshment, this is mellower, with a bigger mouthfeel, lower carbonation (despite appearances) and a sweet juicy mandarin flavour at its core. There's a little bit of brown sugar and some slight pine resin at the finish. Only the limited complexity suggests the low strength: everything else you get in a stronger pale IPA is pretty much here. I didn't feel shortchanged by the 33cl bottle but would very happily sink a few pints of this.
Azimuth IPA is almost half as strong again but shows a wonderful lightness of touch. The aroma is all summer meadow grass and clover, and I detect an antipodean influence in the flavour: pineapple, mango and the like, with a waxy finish dragging us back to the old world. The drinkability is improved by a very slight sourness and some saisonesque pepperiness. Nothing heavy or sticky here, meaning it's possibly a bit dangerous in quantity. Overall a nicely zesty IPA and a great example of how British breweries are tinkering with the style.
The big guns come out last: Queboid at 8% ABV. While the previous two are on the fizzy side, this poured almost flat, the token foam dissipating quickly. My soupiness alarm began beeping. It's a dark shade of orange and smells of concentrated boiled sweets: an intense sugariness and just a hint of spices behind it. While it's certainly heavy and sweet it's not sticky, hot or especially difficult drinking. The texture is smooth and slick and I don't miss the carbonation at all. If anything it's a little understated for such a big beer: the hops provide only a hint of orange and there's none of the promised Belgian fruitiness; nor does the spice re-materialise. It's the first beer I've encountered that might be improved by a bit more heat or toffee.
The common factor with all these three is their approachability: they're simple beers but brewed from exceptional ingredients put together in interesting ways. It's a refreshing mid-point between tradition-following British beer and simply aping the Americans.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
2 weeks ago